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Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. 

Lantern Books • New York 
A Division of Booklight Inc. 


Lantern Books 

One Union Square West, Suite 201 

New York, NY 10003 

Copyright © Richard Schwartz 2002 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a 
retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, 
mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written 
permission of Lantern Books. 

Printed in the United States of America 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Schwartz, Richard H. 

Judaism and global survival / Richard H. Schwartz. 

p. cm. 
Includes bibliographical references and indexes. 
ISBN 1-930051-87-5 (pbk.) 
1. Judaism and social problems. I. Title. 

HN40.J5 S38 2001 
296.3'8— dc21 



This masterful volume provides a treasure of insights into the 
perspective of Judaism on many urgent social problems. People 
committed to the vital force of the Jewish heritage will discover in 
this work both richness of expression and creative application of 
old texts to new situations. This volume can make a significant 
contribution to the shaping of the social consciousness of our 
community. — Rabbi Saul J. Berman, Professor of Jewish Studies, 
Stern College of Yeshiva University; Founder and Executive 
Director, Edah (modern Orthodox community organization) 

Everyone who believes in Tikkun Olam will be strengthened by 
this rich compendium of Jewish sources and ethical insights, 
which should stimulate many dialogues in the Jewish community 
about critical issues. Everyone who wants to apply Jewish values to 
the great concerns of our time will be nourished when they eat of 
this feast of Jewish values and treasures that is spread before us. 
— Rabbi Irving Greenberg, President, Jewish Life Network; 
Founder, CLAL, National Jewish Center for Learning and Leader- 

A superb task of research, compilation, and writing.... [This] book 
brings to bear scholarly insight in a way that is accessible to the 
interested layperson. The insights and the values of the Jewish 
tradition regarding crucial social issues of our time come alive in ... 
[this] presentation. Whether used as a textbook or as a personal 
guide for Jews who care about making Jewish values live in our 
world, this book makes a significant contribution to the modern 
understanding of Jewish social justice. — Rabbi David Saperstein, 
Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism 

Dr. Schwartz has written a significant book that will raise the 
ecological conscience of the reader, and he has supplied it with 
religious and secular erudition and global relevance. It speaks with 
the unmistakable diction of the prophetic moral sensibility. 
— Harold M. Schulweis, Rabbi, Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, 

Dr. Schwartz's erudition and moral passion are admirable, as well 
as his ability to deal with so many subjects so readably and 
succinctly. — Dr. Andre Ungar, Rabbi, Temple Emanuel, Wood- 
cliff Lake, New Jersey; Former chairperson of the Hebraic Studies 
Department, Rutgers University 

Shows with eloquence and intelligence that Jewish tradition has 
much to teach us all about how to protect the earth and the 
human race from destruction — and how to nurture a decent world. 
— Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director of the Shalom Center; 
Author of Godwrestling: Round 2 and many other books 

My undergraduate years at Brandeis University were just begin- 
ning when the first edition of this book came out — and this one- 
stop collection of Judaic textual sources on issues of the day had a 
profound influence on me. It served me well through years of 
learning and activism, and was one of the few to accompany me on 
a cross-country walk for the environment ten years ago. In semi- 
nary at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, hardly a month 
went by without occasion to consult this important work. As a 
pulpit rabbi and Jewish-environmental educator, I still keep it 
handy. Not only is it time for me to replace my own dog-eared 
copy, but it's time for the newly-updated edition of this work to 
find a position of prominence on every Jewish bookshelf. — Rabbi 
Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congre- 
gation, Bethesda, MD; Board of Trustees, Coalition on the Envi- 
ronment and Jewish Life 

I urge every rabbi, Jewish teacher and concerned Jew to read 
Judaism and Global Survival. We face the future with a great need 
for ancient wisdom from our tradition dealing with justice and 
how to sustain our life on earth. Schwartz's visionary and wise 
book provides us with the spiritual tools to guide our way. — Rabbi 
Warren Stone, Environmental Chair, CCAR (Central Confer- 
ence of American Rabbis) 

An excellent sourcebook. Many of its ideas have found their way 
into my sermons. — Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Campus Hillel Rabbi, 
George Washington University; Associate Rabbi, Temple Shalom 
of Chevy Chase, MD 

Among Judaism's most basic principles are God's affirmation of 
both the world and the moral potential of humankind. Therefore, 
to the Jewish mind, the proper concerns of religion are not only of 
a private, subjective nature, but necessarily extend to the spiritual 
and physical improvement of the world. Dr. Schwartz echoes the 
impassioned protest of the ancient prophets of Israel in his pointed 
consideration of contemporary social issues. In doing so, he also 
demonstrates that Judaism cannot be pigeonholed into the 
convenient ideological categories of "conservative," "liberal," etc., 
but must be encountered on its own terms. — Rabbi Dovid Sears, 
Author of Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition 

A shofar calling the Jewish community to wake up to current crises 
and at the same time return to our roots. Through clear and 
compelling exploration, Schwartz calls us to pay attention to the 
destruction and injustice taking place around the world, realize 
how we are complicit in environmental degradation and human 
suffering, and take action rooted in basic Jewish values. Read this 
book, hear the shofar, and listen for the still, small voice inside 
that calls our Jewish souls to the work of healing and repairing our 
world. — Mark X. Jacobs, Executive Director, COEJL (Coalition 
on the Environment and Jewish Life) 

A lovingly detailed synthesis of much of the best moral tradition 
of Judaism, relating it to modern problems of ecology, war, hunger, 
and other issues of world survival. — Naomi Goodman, Former 
President of the Jewish Peace Fellowship; co-author of The Chal- 
lenge of Shalom 

Richard Schwartz has written a profound and inspiring call to Jews 
to involve themselves in saving our planet from disaster. His book 
makes us proud of our Jewish heritage and eager to engage in envi- 
ronmental activism. — Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of 
Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College 

Richard Schwartz's book represents a generous, humane spirit. It is 
filled with examples of Judaism as a living guide to contemporary 
life. It says that Jews need only look into their own religious faith 
and history to discover that all people, not only Jews, are worthy 
of our concern — and, as Schwartz writes, "Each of us must be a 
Jonah, with a mission to warn the world that it must turn from 
greed, injustice, and idolatry to avoid global oblivion." Judaism and 
Global Survival is rich in the teachings of Judaism and reflective of 
the extraordinary ethical and moral way of life that has always 
made us distinctive. It is an important book. — Murray Polner, 
Former Editor, Present Tense; Chair of the Jewish Peace Fellow- 
ship, and editor of Shalom: The Jewish Peace Letter 

This extremely eloquent, important, and timely book treats a 
subject of the utmost importance, one of vital concern to everyone 
— how we can save the earth and prevent the destruction of its life 
support systems and of humanity itself. — Lewis G. Regenstein, 
President, the Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals 
and Nature; Author of Replenish the Earth: The Teachings of the 
World's Religions on Protecting Animals and Nature 

"Richard Schwartz has crafted a magnificent contribution to 
Jewish ethical writing. He has insightfully raised important ques- 
tions for concerned Jews and courageously taught a simple, yet 
profound Jewish message." — Rabbi Hillel Norry, Shaare Tzedeck 
Synagogue, Manhattan; Member of the Law and Standards 
Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly 

"This book is not just for Jews. People of all faiths who want to 
know how the Hebrew Scriptures relate to the crucial issues of our 
times will find it invaluable. It can be common ground for those of 
us who want the kind of dialogue that will create the world that 
ought to be." — Tony Campolo, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, 
Eastern College 


Prepublication Endorsements 

Foreword by Rabbi David Rosen 


Acknowledgments to the Second Edition 

. . . .v 

. .xiii 



1: Involvement and Protest 

2: Human Rights and Obligations 

3: Social Justice 

4: Ecology 

5: Environmental Issues in Israel . 

6: Hunger 

7: Peace 

8: International Concerns 

9: Energy 

10: Global Climate Change 

11: Population Growth 

12: Vegetarianism — A Global Imperative 
13: Conclusion 


Appendix A: Action Ideas 

Appendix B: Miscellaneous Background Materia 
Appendix C: Guide to Jewish Activist Groups . 
Appendix D: General Groups Involved with Global Issues 
Appendix E: Jewish Publications 

. .1 















Notes 207 

Annotated Bibliography 235 

Subject Index 241 

Index of Biblical Passages 251 


sionate cannot truly be of the seed of Abraham our father (Bezah 
32b). In other words, to be authentically Jewish means to emulate 
Abraham's compassionate conduct towards others. Underlying this state- 
ment is the view of Abraham in our Tradition, as the pioneer of ethical 
monotheism. He not only recognized that there is one Creative Source of 
the one Creation, but that this very unity conveys a moral imperative 
concerning ethical behavior and conduct (Genesis 18:19). Accordingly, 
based on the above statement, our sages declare: the more we are compas- 
sionate and engaged in relation to the world around us, the truer we are to 
the moral essence of the Abrahamic faith affirmation. 

Of course, there is also a very pragmatic dimension of enlightened self- 
interest that demands such conduct of us. This is expressed in the Talmud 
in the words of our sages, that Heaven grants compassion to those who 
have compassion on others, but withdraws it from those who do not 
(Shabbat 151b). In other words, compassion is the means by which we 
secure our own future! Indeed, Judaism teaches that it is our responsibility 
as human beings to be constructive co-workers in the Creation, ensuring 
its sustainable development (Genesis 2:15; Shabbat 10a; Ecclesiastes Rabbah 

For thousands of years we have recited daily, evening and morning, the 
"kriyat shema," the second paragraph of which (Deuteronomy 11:13-21) 
deals with the direct link between the observance of the Biblical 
commandments and the condition of our ecosystem. Today, this connec- 



tion between our ethical behavior or misbehavior and our environment is 
evident to us as it has never been before. 

In this excellent book, Professor Richard Schwartz clarifies this 
connection most vividly, together with the dangers and injustices with 
which our planet has to contend. However, also in keeping with Biblical 
teaching, he makes it powerfully clear that we have the means to signifi- 
cantly address these challenges. Indeed, the degree to which we take up his 
call is the degree to which we demonstrate whether or not we are worthy 
and authentic children of Abraham our father. 

Rabbi David Rosen 

Former Chief Rabbi of Ireland 

President for Israel of the International Jewish Vegetarian Society 

International Director of lnterreligious Affairs 

of the American Jewish Committee 
President of the International Council of Christians and Jews 
International President of the World Conference of Religions for Peace 

In loving memory of 

my dear parents , 

Rose and Joseph Schwartz, 

for their constant devotion, 

understanding, and encouragement 


1 call heaven and earth to witness concerning you this day, that 1 have set 
before you life and death, the blessingand the curse; therefore choose life, 
that you may live, you and your descendants. (Deuteronomy 30:19) 


ways the world today is choosing death: 

Acts of terror, such as the horrific plane crashes into the 
World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 
2001, kill and maim many people, cause many more to live in 
fear, and divert economic and human resources from basic 
human needs. 

While enough food is being produced to provide an adequate 
diet for all of the world's people, waste, greed, and inefficient 
or unjust systems of production and distribution result in 
millions of deaths annually due to hunger and malnutrition. 
While there is massive overconsumption and waste in wealthy 
countries, billions of the world's people lack adequate food, 
shelter, clean water, education, sanitary facilities, and employ- 

There are many signs of rapid climate change and its effects, 
including record heat waves, severe droughts and storms, 
flooding, spreading diseases, bleaching of coral reefs, melting 
glaciers and ice caps, and extensive forest fires. 


• The world's primary ecosystems are threatened; many lakes 
and streams are polluted by acid rain, chemical fertilizer, 
manure, and other pollutants; the earth's forests are shrinking; 
fisheries are collapsing; water tables are falling; soils are 
eroding; concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide are 
increasing; and many of the world's people are threatened by 
pesticides and toxic wastes. 

• Competition for scarce resources, such as oil and water, make 
conflicts and war more likely. 

• The rates of destruction of plant and animal species are the 
most rapid in the world's history. 

There is a need for major changes if the world is to avoid increasingly 
severe threats. In 1992, over 1,670 scientists, including 104 Nobel laure- 
ates — a majority of the living recipients of the Prizes in the sciences — 
signed a "World Scientists' Warning To Humanity." 1 Their introduction 

Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. 
Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on 
the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many 
of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish 
for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so 
alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the 
manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are 
to avoid the collision our present course will bring about. 

The scientists' analysis discussed threats to the atmosphere, rivers and 
streams, oceans, soil, living species, and forests. Their warning was blunt: 

We the undersigned, senior members of the world's scientific 
community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great 
change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, 
if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this 
planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated. 


This book discusses challenges facing humanity and Jewish teachings 
that address these challenges, in order to further galvanize Jews to help 
repair the world, as required by Jewish law. It shows that we don't need to 
discover new values and approaches to address current global threats. 
What is needed is a rediscovery and application of basic Jewish teachings 
and mandates, such as to pursue peace and justice, to love our neighbors as 
ourselves, and to act as co-workers with God in protecting and preserving 
the world. We will consider how the application of Jewish values can help 
reduce global threats, such as climate change, pollution, atmospheric 
ozone depletion, hunger, poverty, energy and water shortages, and rapid 
human population growth. 

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a leading twentieth-century Jewish 
theologian, eloquently expressed the central role that Judaism must play in 
helping to solve current problems: 

Our civilization is in need of redemption. The evil, the falsehood, 
the vulgarity of our way of living cry to high heaven. There is a war 
to be waged against the vulgar, against the glorification of power, 
a war that is incessant, universal. There is much purification that 
needs to be done, ought to be done, and could be done through 
bringing to bear the radical wisdom, the sacrificial devotion, the 
uncompromising loyalty of our forefathers upon the issues of our 
daily living. 2 

Many Jews today are appropriately concerned about Jewish survival 
and the flourishing of Jewish culture and learning. As indicated in the 
"Guide to Activist Jewish Groups" in the Appendix, many Jewish groups 
are applying Jewish values to today's critical issues. However, many Jews 
have made peace with the powers that be. They often worship modern 
idols of materialism, state power, technology, fame, personal ambition, and 
overconsumption. There is little active involvement or protest against 
injustice, but much complacency and conformity. Unfortunately, there is 
far too little attention paid to the Judaism of the prophets and sages, with 
its passionate concern for justice, peace, and righteousness. 


Many Jews have forgotten the mandate to strive to perfect the world. 
Today the synagogues and pronouncements of rabbis have frequently 
become irrelevant to the critical issues that face the world's people. God 
requires justice, compassion, involvement, and protests against evil, but 
our synagogues have too often focused solely on ritual and parochial 

A person who takes Jewish values seriously would be alienated by 
much of what goes on and is sanctioned in Jewish life today. As Rabbi 
Heschel states, "One is embarrassed to be called religious in the face of reli- 
gion's failure to keep alive the image of God in the face of man." Many 
idealistic Jews have turned away from Judaism because Judaism's teachings 
requiring involvement in today's crucial issues are not adequately dissemi- 
nated and practiced. 

For Jews, the acts of helping the needy and caring for the world are not 
voluntary options but responsibilities and Divine commandments. These 
are not only individual responsibilities, but also obligations for the whole 
society. Our tradition understands this principle as a covenant — an agree- 
ment that binds us to God. In this covenant, we assume the task of striving 
to perfect the world and, in return, receive the Divine promise that the 
world will be redeemed. The Jewish message is not only one of responsi- 
bility, but also one of hope. 

It is a shame that some Jewish leaders and institutions have forgotten 
that the practical expression of justice, in our own community and toward 
all communities, has been and must continue to be a major emphasis of 
Jewish living. It is a tragedy that the Jewish community has generally failed 
to apply its rich theology to the preservation of the environment. Too 
often the Jewish establishment has been silent while our air is bombarded 
by poisons that threaten life, our rivers and streams are polluted by indus- 
trial wastes, our fertile soil is eroded and depleted, and the ecological 
balance is endangered by the destruction of rain forests and other essential 

The Jewish community must become more actively involved. We must 
proclaim that it is a desecration of God's Name to pollute the air and water, 
to slash and burn forests, and to wantonly destroy the abundant resources 
that God has so generously provided. We cannot allow whatever other 


needs or fears we may have, however legitimate, to prevent us from 
applying fundamental Jewish values to the critical problems of today. 

It is also unfortunate that many Jews are almost totally unaware of the 
rich legacy of the Jewish tradition and its focus on justice for both the indi- 
vidual and society. Indeed, Judaism provides a pragmatic path for imple- 
menting its progressive ideas. The Talmud and other rabbinical writings 
are filled with in-depth discussions, advice, and legal decisions on how to 
apply the principles of the prophets to everyday situations. Judaism also 
offers the richness and warmth of an ancient historical community, a 
meaningful inheritance for each Jew. 

This book is not meant to be a complete analysis of all current social 
problems or of all Jewish positions on the issues discussed. It does not 
attempt to give all sides of every issue. What it does do is show that Judaism 
demands passionate concern and involvement in society's problems and 
requires protest against the current destructive forces that threaten 

I hope this book will contribute to and help expand the ongoing 
dialogues about Jewish teachings concerning these critically important 
issues, and will play a part in turning our planet from its present perilous 
course and toward one that is more just, humane, and sustainable. 



the traditional Jewish blessing pronounced when a person reaches a 
milestone in life: "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, 
Who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this season." 

While it is essential that the issues discussed in this book be put on the 
Jewish agenda, I recognize my limitations in presenting this information. I 
have been very fortunate, however, to have input and suggestions from a 
wide variety of dedicated, extremely knowledgeable individuals. 

The following (in alphabetical order) reviewed an entire draft of the 
manuscript and made valuable suggestions: 

1. Rabbi Yonasson Gershom: Breslov Chassid; author of Jewish Tales of 
Reincarnation (Jason Aronson, 1999). 

2. Ari Knoll, attorney, a longtime friend and advisor; Co-Chair of the 
Board of Beyond Shelter Coalition, the alliance of over thirty NYC syna- 
gogues and Jewish schools working for permanent housing for the homeless. 

3. Mark Nagurka, Ph.D. (MIT): Associate Professor of Mechanical 
and Biomedical Engineering at Marquette University in Milwaukee, 

4. Charles Patterson, Ph.D: author of Anti-Semitism: The Road to the 
Holocaust and Beyond and eight other books. His most recent books are 
From Buchenwald to Carnegie Hall and Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of 
Animals and the Holocaust. His experience as a copy editor was very valu- 
able in sharpening my writing. 

5. Lewis Regenstein: author of Replenish the Earth: The Teachings of the 
World's Religions on Protecting Animals and Nature, America the Poisoned, 


and The Politics of Extinction; President of the Interfaith Council for the 
Protection of Animals and Nature in Atlanta, an affiliate of the Humane 
Society of the United States. 

6. Rabbi Dovid Sears: Breslov Chassid; author of many books, 
including Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition: A Source Book 
and The Path of the Bal Shem Tov. Early Chassidic Teachings and Customs. 
His latest writing project, The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetari- 
anism in Jewish Law and Mysticism, provided valuable sources and concepts 
for the chapter on vegetarianism; he also reviewed the final two drafts. 

7. Jonathan Wolf, who contributed to and reworked literally every 
page of this book (and compiled the Appendix of activist organizations 
and the Afterword). For almost three decades, Jonathan has been one of 
the leading promoters of a distinctively Jewish commitment to social 
change and community involvement. In the 1970s, he acted as liaison 
between Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers and the organized Jewish 
community; served as Social Policy Director of the Synagogue Council of 
America (coordinating the rabbinic and congregational bodies of Conser- 
vative, Modern Orthodox, and Reform Judaism to take on critical issues); 
wrote the Social Action chapter of the Jewish Catalog; helped establish 
the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE); and was 
founder and president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America. In the 
1980s, he created and directed the Community Action Department of 
Lincoln Square Synagogue in NYC, the largest and broadest-ranging 
program of organized Jewish activism and volunteer service hesed in 
America; chaired the original conference and drafted the platform of New 
Jewish Agenda; was active in the Soviet and Ethiopian Jewry movements, 
visiting refusenik families in Moscow and Leningrad and, later, refugee 
compounds in Addis Ababa and Gondar; and widely lectured and taught, 
offering many adult classes at Lincoln Square Synagogue such as "Jewish 
Political Ethics," "Jews and Non-Jews in Jewish Tradition," "Pluralism and 
Tolerance as Jewish Values," and the class on "Judaism and Vegetarianism" 
at which this author first met him, inspiring my involvement. In the 1990s, 
Jonathan helped start and chaired L'OLAM, the NY-area environmental 
coalition of synagogues and Jewish organizations (which for years held 
annual regional conferences on Judaism and Ecology), as well as the Jewish 


Environmental Network, the first such umbrella of national organizations; 
and also served as executive director and board chair of Beyond Shelter 
Coalition, New York's Jewish alliance of congregations and schools for 
housing the homeless. After twenty-six years in his famed Riverside Drive 
apartment, known as the West Side Center for Jewish Life, where he has 
hosted many hundreds of vegetarian events such as Tu B'Shvat Seders, 
Jewish celebrations for Thanksgiving, speakers series, and Shabbatons 
dedicated to Jewish political values, ecology, human rights, and oppressed 
Jewry, he is now leaving to direct the Institute for Jewish Activism 

Also, Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen, a longtime friend, has been a 
constant source of wise advice and appreciated encouragement. He 
reviewed an early draft and suggested additional Judaic sources which have 
been incorporated. Yosef now lives in Israel; to receive his regular postings 
of Torah and insights on society, send an e-mail to 

People who made major contributions to specific parts of the book 
include: Arnold Aronowitz, Aaron Gross, and Asher Waldman. 

The excellent work done by Erica Weisberg in designing the cover is 
most appreciated. It is a worthy counterpart to the superb cover she designed 
for my Judaism and Vegetarianism. I am very grateful to Gene Rasmussen and 
Joseph Racombly for running off drafts of the manuscript, and to Lewis 
Carbonaro for his help in scanning material for use in this book. 

I apologize to any contributors whom I have inadvertently omitted. 

I wish to express deep appreciation to my wife, Loretta, our children, 
Susan (and David Kleid), David, and Deborah (and Ariel Gluch), and our 
grandchildren, Shalom Eliahu, Ayelet Breindel, Avital P'nina, and Michal 
Na'ama Kleid, and Eliyahu, Ilan Avraham, and Yosef Gluch, for their 
patience, understanding, and encouragement as I took time away from 
other responsibilities to gather and write this material. 

Although all of these people have been very helpful, the author takes 
full responsibility for the final selection of material and interpretations. 

Finally, I wish to thank in advance all who read this volume and send 
me ideas and suggestions for improvements so this book can more effec- 
tively show how the application of Jewish values can help move the world 
to a more sustainable path. My e-mail address is 


Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of his own family 
and does not do so is punished [liable, held responsible] for the transgres- 
sions of his family. Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions 
of the people of his community and does not do so is punished for the 
transgressions of his community. Whoever is able to protest against the 
transgressions of the entire world and does not do so is punished for the 
transgressions of the entire world. (Babylonian Talmud: Shabbat 54b) 

society. A Jew must not be concerned only about his or her own personal 
affairs when the community is in trouble: 

If a person of learning participates in public affairs and serves as 
judge or arbiter, he gives stability to the land. But if he sits in his 
home and says to himself, "What have the affairs of society to do 
with me? ... Why should I trouble myself with the people's voices 
of protest? Let my soul dwell in peace!" — if he does this, he over- 
throws the world. 1 

Judaism teaches that people must struggle to create a better society. 
The Torah frequently admonishes: "And you shall eradicate the evil from 
your midst" (Deuteronomy 13:6, 17:7, 21:21, 24:7). Injustice cannot be 
passively accepted; it must be actively resisted and, ultimately, eliminated. 
The Talmudic sages teach that one reason Jerusalem was destroyed was 
that its citizens failed in their responsibility to constructively criticize one 


another's improper behavior. 2 They indicate that "Love that does not 
contain the element of criticism is not really love."' 

The essential elements of Jewish practice include devotion to Torah, 
study, prayer, performing good deeds and other mitzvot (commandments), 
and cultivating a life of piety. But, as indicated in the following Midrash (a 
rabbinic story or teaching based on Biblical events or concepts), in order 
to be considered pious, a person must protest against injustice. Even God 
is challenged to apply this standard in judging people: 

R. Acha ben R. Chanina said: Never did a favorable decree go 
forth from the mouth of the Holy One which He withdrew and 
changed into an unfavorable judgment, except the following: 
"And the Lord said to His angel: 'Go through the city, through 
Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh 
and groan over all the abominations that are committed there' 
(Ezekiel 9:4). (Thus, they will be protected from the angels who 
are slaying the wicked.) 

At that moment, the indignant prosecutor came forward in the 
Heavenly Court. 

Prosecutor: Lord, wherein are these (marked ones) different 
from those (the rest)? 

God: These are wholly righteous men, while those are wholly 

Prosecutor: But Lord, they had the power to protest, but did not. 

God: I knew that had they protested, they would not have been 

Prosecutor: But Lord, if it was revealed to You, was it revealed 
to them? Accordingly, they should have protested and incurred 
scorn for thy holy Name, and have been ready to suffer blows ... as 
the prophets of Israel suffered. 

God revoked his original order, and the righteous were found 
guilty, because of their failure to protest. 4 

Hence, it is not sufficient merely to do mitzvot while acquiescing in 
unjust conditions. The Maharal of Prague, a sixteenth-century sage, states 


that individual piety pales in the face of the sin of not protesting against 
an emerging communal evil, and a person will be held accountable for not 
preventing wickedness when capable of doing so. 5 One of the most impor- 
tant dangers of silence in the face of evil is that it implies acceptance or 
even support. According to Rabbeinu Yonah, a medieval sage, sinners may 
think, "Since others are neither reproving nor contending against us, our 
deeds are permissible." 6 

Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a refugee from pre-World War II Nazi Germany 
and former president of the American Jewish Congress, spoke to the 
250,000 people who took part in the "March on Washington" organized by 
the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in 1963 on behalf of 
civil rights. He stated that under Hitler's rule, he had learned about the 
problem of apathy toward fellow human beings: "Bigotry and hatred are 
not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the 
most shameful and most tragic problem is silence." 7 

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a leading twentieth-century theolo- 
gian, believed that apathy toward injustice results in greater wickedness. He 
wrote that "indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself and that 
silent acquiescence leads to evil being accepted and becoming the rule. 8 

Jews are required to protest against injustice and to try to agitate for 
change even when successful implementation appears very difficult. The 
Talmudic sage Rabbi Zera states, "Even though people will not accept it, 
you should rebuke them." 9 We can never be sure that our words and actions 
will be ineffective. The only responsible approach, then, is to try our best. 
In Rabbi Tarfon's famous formulation in the Mishnah: 

It is not your obligation to complete the task. But neither are you 
free to desist from it. 10 

Just as many drops of water can eventually carve a hole in a rock, many 
small efforts can eventually have a major impact. 

There are times when a person must continue to protest in order to 
avoid being corrupted: 


A man stood at the entrance of Sodom crying out against the 
injustice and evil in that city. Someone passed by and said to him, 
"For years you have been urging the people to repent, and yet no 
one has changed. Why do you continue?" He responded: "When I 
first came, I protested because I hoped to change the people of 
Sodom. Now I continue to cry out, because if I don't, they will 
have changed me." 

In his article "The Rabbinic Ethics of Protest," Rabbi Reuven 
Kimelman observes that the means of protest must be consistent with 
responsibility to the community. He states that protest must involve both 
love and truth, where love implies the willingness to suffer, and truth the 
willingness to resist. Together, he concludes, they encompass an approach 
of nonviolent resistance, toward the ends of justice and peace. 11 

The Talmud teaches that controversy and protest must be "for the sake 
of Heaven." 12 The protest of Korach against the rule of Moses in the wilder- 
ness (Numbers 16:1—35) is considered negatively by the Jewish tradition 
because it was based on jealousy and personal motives. 

Involvement and Protest in Jewish History 

From its beginning, Judaism has often protested against greed, injustice, 
and the misuse of power. Abraham, the first Jew, smashed the idols of his 
father although his action challenged the common belief of the time. He 
established the precedent that a Jew should not conform to society's values 
when they are evil. Later, he even challenged God, exclaiming, "Shall not 
the Judge of all the earth do justly?" (Genesis 18:25) In contrast, Noah, 
though personally righteous, was later rebuked by the Talmudic sages 
because he failed to criticize the immorality of the society around him. 

At the beginning of the book of Exodus, the Torah relates three inci- 
dents in Moses' life before God chose him to deliver the Israelites from 
Egypt. They teach that Jews must be involved in helping to resolve 
disputes — whether between two Jews, a Jew and a non-Jew, or two non- 
Jews. On the first day that Moses goes out to his people from the palace of 
Pharaoh in which he was raised, he rushes to defend a Hebrew against an 
Egyptian aggressor (Exodus 2:11, 12). When Moses next goes out, he 


defends a Hebrew who is being beaten by another Jew (Exodus 2:13). 
Later, after being forced to flee from Egypt and arriving at a well in Midian, 
Moses comes to the aid of the shepherd daughters of Jethro who were being 
harassed by other shepherds (Exodus 2:15—17). 

Balaam, the biblical pagan prophet, intends to curse Israel but ends up 
blessing it. He describes the role of the Jewish people: "Lo, it is a people 
dwelling alone, and not reckoning itself among the nations" (Numbers 
23:9). To the Israelites, the keynote of their existence is: "I am the Lord thy 
God, who has separated you from the nations that you should be Mine" 
(Leviticus 20:26). Throughout their history, Jews have often been noncon- 
formists who refused to acquiesce in the false values of the surrounding 

When the Jews were in Persia, Mordechai refused to defer to an evil 
ruler. As the book of Esther states: "And all the king's servants ... bowed 
down and prostrated themselves before Haman....But Mordechai would 
not bow down nor prostrate himself before him" (Esther 3:2). Mordechai 
believes that bowing down to a human being is inconsistent with his obli- 
gation to worship only God. Later Mordechai condemns inaction in urging 
Esther to take risks to save the Jewish people (Esther 4:13, 14). 

The greatest champions of protest against unjust conditions were the 
Hebrew prophets. Rabbi Abraham Heschel summarizes the attributes of 
these spokespeople for God: They had the ability to hold God and people 
in one thought at the same time; they could not be tranquil in an unjust 
world; they were supremely impatient with evil, due to their intense sensi- 
tivity to God's concern for right and wrong; they were advocates for those 
too weak to plead their own cause (the widow, the orphan, and the 
oppressed); their major activity was interference, remonstrating against 
wrongs inflicted on other people." 

In sharp contrast, although Jews are supposed to be b'nei nevi'im 
(descendants of the Biblical prophets), our communities often respond 
placidly to immoral acts and conditions. We try to maintain a balanced 
tone while victims of oppression are in extreme agony. But not so the 


Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and declare 
unto My people their transgression. ...Is this not the fast that I have 
chosen: To loose the chains of wickedness, to undo the bonds of 
oppression, to let the crushed go free, and to break every yoke of 
tyranny? (Isaiah 58:1, 6) 

The prophet Amos berates those content amidst destruction and injustice: 

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, 

And to those who feel secure on the mountains of Samaria.... 

Woe to those who lie upon beds of ivory, 

And stretch themselves upon their couches, 

And eat lambs from the flock, 

And calves from the midst of the stall; 

Who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp.... 

Who drink wine in bowls, 

And anoint themselves in the finest oils, 

But are not grieved on the ruin of Joseph! (Amos 6:1, 4-6) 

In order to carry out their role, to be a kingdom of priests and a light 
unto the nations, Jews throughout history were compelled to live in the 
world, but apart from it — in effect, on the other side. This, the sages 
comment, is implied in the very name "Hebrew" {ivri), from ever, the other 
side: "The whole world is on one side [idolaters] and he [Abraham, the 
Hebrew] is on the other side." 14 Jacques Maritain, a French Catholic 
philosopher, wrote in 1939 that the Jewish people were 

found at the very heart of the world's structure, stimulating it, 
exasperating it, moving it. ...It [the Jewish people] gives the world 
no peace, it bars slumber, it teaches the world to be discontented 
and restless as long as the world has not accepted God. 15 

Several distinguished Orthodox rabbis of the past two centuries, 
including Rabbis Samson Raphael Hirsch, Jonathan Sacks, and Joseph B. 


Soloveitchik, as well as Lord Immanuel Jakobovitz, stress that Judaism has 
a message for their surrounding cultures and that Jews should convey it to 
their host societies. 16 Rabbi Soloveitchik (the Rav), one of the foremost 
Torah leaders of the twentieth century, believed that Jews have a respon- 
sibility to work with others to promote the welfare of civilization. He felt 
that Jews must aid the needy and protect human rights, because such obli- 
gations are "implicit in human existence." He states: "We stand shoulder 
to shoulder with the rest of civilized society over against an order that 
defies us all." 17 Rabbi Sacks, the current Chief Rabbi of England, believes 
that working for tikkun olam (healing and improving the planet) can be a 
powerful counterforce to the dominance of secularism as well as an anti- 
dote to religious isolationism. He notes: 

One of the most powerful assumptions of the twentieth century is 
that faith ... belongs [only] to private life. Religion and society, 
many believe, are two independent entities, so we can edit God 
out of the language and leave our social world unchanged. 18 

Based on Jewish tradition and values, Jews have been active in many 
protest movements. Some of these movements have fought on behalf of 
Jewish needs, such as the effort to rescue European Jews from the Holo- 
caust, the battle to support Jewish independence and survival in Israel, and 
the struggles for Soviet Jewry and later for Syrian and Ethiopian Jewry. But 
Jews also have been actively involved in struggles for a more peaceful 
world, human rights, and a cleaner environment. A group of rabbis, acting 
in accordance with the Jewish ethic of protest, explain why they came to 
St. Augustine, Florida, in 1964 to demonstrate against segregation in that 

We came because we could not stand silently by our brother's 
blood. We had done that too many times before. We have been 
vocal in our exhortation of others but the idleness of our hands too 
often revealed an inner silence.. ..We came as Jews who remember 
the millions of faceless people who stood quietly, watching the 
smoke rise from Hitler's crematoria. We came because we know 


that second only to silence, the greatest danger to man is loss of 
faith in man's capacity to act. 19 

The Current Lack of Involvement and Protest 20 

Religious practitioners frequently mischaracterize God's demands. Instead 
of crying out against immorality, injustice, deceit, cruelty, and violence, 
they too often condone these evils, concentrating instead on ceremonies 
and ritual. To many Jews today, Judaism involves occasional visits to the 
Synagogue or Temple, prayers recited with little feeling, rituals performed 
with little meaning, and socializing. But to the prophets, worship accom- 
panied by indifference to evil is an absurdity, an abomination to God. 21 
Judaism is mocked when Jews indulge in or condone empty rituals side by 
side with immoral deeds. 

While ritual is extremely important, God's great concern for justice is 
powerfully expressed by the prophet Amos: 

Even though you offer Me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, 
I will not accept them. And the peace offerings of your fatted beasts 
I will not look upon. Take away from Me the noise of your songs; to 
the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice well up as 
waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. (Amos 5:22—24) 

The prophet Hosea similarly states God's preference for moral and spiritual 
dedication rather than mere outward ritual: 

For I desire kindness and not sacrifice, attachment to God rather 
than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6) 

Yet all too often, today's Jews have failed to speak out against an 
unjust, immoral society. While claiming to follow the ethical teachings of 
the prophets, many Jews have equivocated and rationalized inaction. 
Rabbi Heschel blames religion's failure to speak out and be involved in 
critical current issues for its losses: 


Religion declined not because it was refuted but because it became 
irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely 
replaced by habit, when the crisis of today is ignored because of the 
splendor of the past, when faith becomes an heirloom rather than 
a living fountain, when religion speaks only in the name of 
authority rather than with the voice of compassion, its message 
becomes meaningless. 22 

Many Jews are turned off to Judaism by the lack of moral commitment 
and involvement in struggles for a better world within some Jewish reli- 
gious institutions. Rabbi Abraham Karp, who taught at Dartmouth 
College, felt that students would only be attracted to a "church or syna- 
gogue which dares, which challenges, which disturbs, which acts as a critic, 
which leads in causes which are moral." 23 Reinhold Niebuhr, the promi- 
nent Christian theologian, attributes religion's failure to attract idealistic 
people to its failure to protest injustice. He states that the chief reason 
many people turn from religion is that the "social impotence of religion 
outrages their conscience." 24 

Many Jews today justify their lack of involvement with the world's 
problems by stating that Jews have enough troubles of their own and that 
we can leave it to others to involve themselves in "non-Jewish" issues. 
Certainly, Jews must be actively involved in battling anti-Semitism, 
working for a secure and just Israel, and addressing many other Jewish 
issues. But can we divorce ourselves from active involvement with more 
general problems? Are they really "non-Jewish" issues? Don't Jews also 
suffer from polluted air and water, resource shortages, the effects of global 
climate change, and other societal threats? Can we ignore issues critical to 
our nation's future? 

Perhaps the situation is, in mathematical terms, one of conditional 
probability. If conditions in the world are good, it is still possible that Jews 
will suffer. But if these conditions are bad, it is almost certain that Jews will 
be negatively affected. Hence, even considering self-interest alone, Jews 
must be involved in working for a just and harmonious world. 

It is essential that Jews (and others) actively apply Jewish values to 
current critical problems. We must be God's loyal opposition to injustice, 


greed, and immorality, rousing the conscience of humanity. We must shout 
"NO!" when others are whispering "yes" to injustice. We must restore 
Judaism to the task of "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfort- 
able." We must act as befits "descendants of the prophets," 25 reminding the 
world that there exists a God of justice, compassion, and kindness. 
Nothing less than global survival is at stake. 

As later chapters will show, the world is moving on a perilous path 
determined by its failure to take seriously religious values that have a direct 
impact on society at large, such as justice, kindness, compassion, peaceful 
relations, and concern for the environment. We must act to inform and 
influence Jews (and others) to become involved and to protest to help 
move the world to a more sustainable path before it is too late. 


One person (Adam) was created as the common ancestor of all people, 
for the sake of the peace of the human race, so that one should not be 
able to say to a neighbor, "My ancestor was better than yours." 

One person was created to teach us the sanctity and importance of 
every life, for one who destroys a single life is considered by scripture to 
have destroyed an entire world, and one who saves a single life is consid- 
ered by scripture to have saved an entire world. 

One person was created to teach us the importance of the actions of 
every individual, for we should treat the world as half good and half bad, 
so that if we do one good deed, it will tip the whole world to the side of 
goodness .(Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5) 

and unity of humanity. We all have one Creator; one God is the 
Divine Project of every person. Judaism is a universal religion that 
condemns discrimination based on race, color, or nationality. God endows 
each person with basic human dignity. 

The following teaching of the sages reinforces the lesson of univer- 
sality inherent in the creation of one common ancestor: "God formed 
Adam out of dust from all over the world: yellow clay, white sand, black 
loam, and red soil. Therefore, no one can declare to any people that they 
do not belong here since this soil is not their home." 1 Hence Adam, our 
common ancestor, represents every person. 

Ben Azzai, a disciple of Rabbi Akiva, also reinforces this concept in 
the Talmud. He states that a fundamental teaching of the Torah is the 



verse "This is the book of the generations of humanity (Adam)" (Genesis 
5:l). z The statement does not talk about black or white, or Jew or Gentile, 
but humanity. Since all human beings share a common ancestor, they must 
necessarily be brothers and sisters. Hence these words proclaim the essen- 
tial message that there is a unity to the human race. 

Imitation of God's Ways 

One of the most important ideas about the creation of humanity is that 
"God created people in God's own image; in the image of God He created 
him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27). According to 
Rabbi Akiva, a Talmudic sage, "Beloved are human beings who were 
created in the image of God, and it is an even greater act of love [by God] 
that it was made known to people that they were created in the Divine 
image." 5 

Because human beings are created in God's image, we are to imitate 
God's attributes of holiness, kindness, and compassion: "And the Lord 
spoke unto Moses, saying: 'Speak unto all the congregation of the children 
of Israel, and say unto them: You shall be holy, as I, the Lord Your God, am 
holy' " (Leviticus 19:1, 2). The fact that the above mandate was delivered 
to the entire congregation means that it applies to every Jew, not just to a 
small, elite group of spiritual or moral specialists. 

In the following verses, the Torah mandates that we walk in God's ways: 

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you, but to 
revere the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways and to love Him, 
and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all 
your soul. (Deuteronomy 10:12) 

For if you shall diligently keep this entire commandment which I 
command you to do it, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all 
His ways, and to cleave to Him.... (Deuteronomy 11:22) 

The Midrash interprets the expression "walking in God's ways" to 
mean "Just as God is called 'merciful,' you should be merciful, just as God 


is called 'compassionate,' you should be compassionate." 4 The third- 
century sage Hama ben Hanina expands on the duty of imitating God: 

What is the meaning of the verse "You shall walk after the Lord 
your God" (Deuteronomy 13:5)? Is it possible for a human being 
to walk after the Shechinah (God's presence), for has it not been 
said, "For the Lord your God is a devouring fire" (Deuteronomy 
4:24)? But the verse means to walk after the attributes of the Holy 
One, Blessed is He. As God clothes the naked, for it is written, 
"And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife coats of skin and 
clothed them" (Genesis 3:21), so should you clothe the naked. 
The Holy One, Blessed is He, visits the sick, for it is written, "And 
the Lord appeared to him (Abraham, while he was recovering 
from circumcision), by the oaks of Mamre" (Genesis 18:1), so 
should you also visit the sick. The Holy One, Blessed is He, 
comforts mourners, for it is written, "And it came to pass after the 
death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac, his son" (Genesis 
25: 1 1 ), so should you comfort mourners. The Holy One, Blessed is 
He, buries the dead, for it is written, "And He buried Moses in the 
valley" (Deuteronomy 34:6), so should you also bury the dead. 5 

Maimonides finds a powerful statement about the importance of imitating 
God in these words from the prophet Jeremiah: 

Thus says the Lord: 

Let not the wise person take pride in his wisdom; 
Neither let the mighty person take pride in his might; 
Let not the rich person take pride in his riches; 
But let him that takes pride, take pride in this: 
That he understands and knows Me, 

That I am the Lord who exercises mercy, justice, and righteous- 
ness, on the earth; 
For in these things I delight, says the Lord. 
(Jeremiah 9:22-23) 


Maimonides interprets this statement to mean that a person should find 
fulfillment in the imitation of God, in being "like God in one's actions." 6 
According to Heschel, Maimonides originally considered the highest goal 
to be contemplation of God's essence, but later came to believe that one's 
ultimate purpose is to emulate God's traits of kindness, justice, and right- 
eousness. He renounced his former practice of seclusion and ministered to 
the sick each day, as a physician.' 

While Judaism has many beautiful symbols, such as the mezuzah, 
menorah, and sukkah, there is only one symbol that represents God, and 
that is each person. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught, more 
important than to have a symbol is to be a symbol. And every person can 
consider himself or herself a symbol of God. This is our challenge: to live 
in a way compatible with being a symbol of God, to walk in God's ways, to 
remember who we are and Whom we represent, and to remember our role 
as partners of God in working to redeem the world. 

Love of Neighbor 

A central commandment in Judaism is "You shall love your neighbor as 
yourself (Leviticus 19:18). According to Rabbi Akiva, this is a (or perhaps 
the) great principle of the Torah. 8 Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev taught: 
"Whether a person really loves God can be determined by the love he or 
she bears toward other human beings." 9 

Many Torah authorities write that this should be applied not only to 
Jews but to all humanity. Rabbi J. H. Hertz, former Chief Rabbi of England, 
states that the translation of the Hebrew word rea (neighbor) does not 
mean "fellow Israelite." He cites several examples in the Torah where that 
word means "neighbor of whatever race or creed." 10 His view reflects that 
of Rabbi Pinchas Eliyahu of Vilna, author of the classic Sefer HaBrit, who 
states, "Love of one's neighbor means that we should love all people, no 

matter to which nation they belong or what language they speak For all 

[people] are created in the Divine image, and all engage in improving civi- 
lization " u Rabbi Pinchas states that "all of the commandments between 

man and man are included in this precept of loving one's neighbor," 12 and 
he provides a scriptural proof text in which a non-Jew is also called 
"neighbor." 13 


The commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself logically follows 
from the Jewish principle that each person has been created in God's 
image. Hence, since my neighbor is like myself, I should love him as 
myself. In fact, the proper translation of the commandment may be "Love 
your neighbor; he is like yourself." In the same chapter of Leviticus in 
which "Love your neighbor as yourself appears, the Torah outlines some 
specific ways that this mandate can be put into practice: 

You shall not steal; nor shall you deal falsely nor lie to one 

another You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him You 

shall not curse the deaf, and you shall not put a stumbling block 

before the blind You shall do no injustice in judgment; be not 

partial to the poor, and favor not the mighty; in righteousness shall 
you judge your neighbor. You shall not go up and down as a tale- 
bearer among your people; neither shall you stand idly by the 
blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:11, 14-16) 

The Talmudic sages spell out how one should practice love for human 

One should practice loving-kindness (gemilut chasadim), not only 
by giving of one's possessions, but by personal effort on behalf of 
one's fellowman, such as extending a free loan, visiting the sick, 
offering comfort to mourners and attending weddings. For alms 
giving (tzedakah) there is the minimum of the tithe (one-tenth) 
and the maximum of one-fifth of one's income. But there is no 
fixed measure of personal service. 14 

Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov tells how to love our neighbor as ourselves by 
relating an experience in his life: 

How to love people is something I learned from a peasant. He was 
sitting in an inn along with the other peasants, drinking.. ..[H]e 
asked one of the men seated beside him: "Tell me, do you love me 
or don't you love me?" The other replied, "I love you very much." 


The first peasant nodded his head, was silent for a while, then 
remarked: "You say that you love me, but you do not know what I 
need. If you really loved me, you should know." The other had not 
a word to say to this, and the peasant who put the question fell 
again silent. But I understood. To know the needs of men and to 
bear the burden of their sorrow — that is the true love of man. 15 

Aaron, the brother of Moses, also teaches how we can love our neigh- 
bors. When two people were quarreling, he would go to each separately 
and tell him how the other deeply regretted their argument and wished 
reconciliation. When the two would next meet, they would often embrace 
and reestablish friendly relations. Because of such acts of love and kindness 
by Aaron, the great Talmudic master Hillel exhorts people to "Be of the 
disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving humanity, and 
drawing them closer to the Torah." 16 

When a pagan confronted Hillel and demanded that the sage explain 
all of the Torah while he, the potential convert, stood on one leg, HillePs 
response was: "What is hateful to you, do not do unto others, — that is the 
entire Torah; everything else is commentary. Go and learn." 17 

Kindness to Strangers 

To further emphasize that "love of neighbor" applies to every human being, 
the Torah frequently commands that we show love and consideration for 
the stranger, "for you know the heart of the stranger, seeing that you were 
strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 23:9). The stranger was one who 
came from distant parts of the Land of Israel or, like the immigrants of our 
own day, from a foreign country. The Torah stresses the importance of 
treating them with respect and empathy. 

The importance placed on the commandment not to mistreat the 
stranger in our midst is indicated by its appearance thirty-six times in the 
Torah, far more than any other mitzvah. 18 It is placed on the same level as 
the duty of kindness to and protection of the widow and the orphan. 19 
(According to rabbinic tradition, most of these references to the "stranger" 
refer to one who converts to Judaism [ger tzedek] or to non-Jews living in 
the Land of Israel who accept Jewish sovereignty, observe basic laws of 


morality, and repudiate idolatry \ger toshav]. But since we were neither 
converts nor formally accepted fellow-travelers in Egypt, there must be 
additional meaning in our obligation to the "stranger.") 

The German Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen (1842-1918) stated 
that true religion involves shielding the alien from all wrong: 

The alien was to be protected, although he was not a member of 
one's family, clan, religious community, or people; simply because 
he was a human being. In the alien, therefore, man discovered the 
idea of humanity. 20 

In our world, with its great clannishness and nationalism, with its often 
harsh treatment of people who don't share the local religion, nationality, 
or culture, the Torah's teachings about the stranger are remarkable: 

And a stranger shall you not wrong, neither shall you oppress him; 
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:20; 
Leviticus 19:33) 

Love you therefore the stranger; for you were strangers in the land 
of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:19; Leviticus 19:34) 

And you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord, your God has 
given you ... along with the stranger that is in the midst of you. 
(Deuteronomy 26: 1 1 ) 

The stranger is guaranteed the same protection in the law court and in 
payment of wages as the native: 

Judge righteously between a man and his brother and the stranger 
that is with him. (Deuteronomy 1:16) 

You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, 
whether he be of your brethren, or of the strangers that are in your 


land within your gates. In the same day you shall pay him. 
(Deuteronomy 24:14,15) 

When it comes to Divine forgiveness, the stranger stands on an equal 
footing with the native: 

And all the congregation of the children of Israel shall be forgiven, 
and the stranger that sojourns among them. (Numbers 15:26) 

Like any other needy person, the stranger had free access to the grain 
that was to be left unharvested in the corners of the field and to the glean- 
ings of the harvest, as well as to fallen grapes or odd clusters of grapes 
remaining on the vine after picking (Leviticus 19:9, 10; 23:22; 
Deuteronomy 24:21). The stranger, like the widowed and the fatherless, 
was welcome to the forgotten sheaves in the fields (Deuteronomy 24:19) 
and to the olives clinging to the beaten trees (Deuteronomy 24:20). He 
also partook of the tithe (the tenth part of the produce) every third year of 
the Sabbatical cycle (Deuteronomy 14:28, 29; 26:12). 21 

Treatment of Non-Jews 

Since God is the Creator and Divine Parent of every person, each human 
being is entitled to proper treatment. A person's actions, and not his or her 
faith or creed, are most important, as indicated in the following Talmudic 

I bring heaven and earth to witness that the Holy Spirit dwells 
upon a non-Jew as well as upon a Jew, upon a woman as well as 
upon a man, upon maidservant as well as manservant. All depends 
on the deeds of the particular individual! 22 

In all nations, there are righteous individuals who will have a 

The Talmud contains many statutes that require us to assist and care for 
non-Jews along with Jews. 


We support the poor of the non-Jew along with the poor of Israel 
and visit the sick of the non-Jew along with the sick of Israel and 
bury the dead of the non-Jew along with the dead of Israel, for the 
sake of peace (mipnei darchei s/iaiom).... 24 

In a city where there are both Jews and Gentiles, the collectors of 
alms collect from both; they feed the poor of both, visit the sick of 
both, bury both, comfort the mourners whether they be Jews or 
Gentiles, and restore the lost goods of both, mipnei darchei shalom: 
to promote peace and cooperation. 25 

The essential spirit of Judaism toward other people was expressed by 
Maimonides in his Mishneh Torah (18:1): 

Jew and non-Jew are to be treated alike. If a (Jewish) vendor 
knows that his merchandise is defective, he must inform the 
purchaser (whatever his or her religion). 

Influenced by this statement by Maimonides, Rabbi Menahem Meiri 
of Provence HaMeiri ruled in the fourteenth century that a Jew should 
desecrate the Sabbath if it might help to save the life of a Gentile. 26 
HaMeiri states that any previous ruling to the contrary had been intended 
only for ancient times, for those non-Jews who were pagans and morally 
deficient. 2 ' The late Israeli Chief Rabbi Chaim Unterman, in a responsum 
in which he vigorously denied a charge raised by Dr. Israel Shahak that 
Jewish law forbids violating the Sabbath to save a Gentile's life, quotes this 
decision. 28 

Rabbi Ezekiel Landau, eighteenth-century author of Noda B'Yehuda, 

I emphatically declare that in all laws contained in the Jewish 
writings concerning theft, fraud, etc., no distinction is made 
between Jew and Gentile; that the (Talmudic) legal categories goy, 
akum (idolater), etc., in no way apply to the people among whom 
we live. 


The following Midrash dramatically shows that Jews are to treat every 
person, not just fellow Jews, justly: 

Shimon ben Shetach worked hard preparing flax. His disciples 
said to him, "Rabbi, desist. We will buy you an ass, and you will not 
have to work so hard." They went and bought an ass from an Arab, 
and a pearl was found on it, whereupon they came to Rabbi 
Shimon and said, "From now on you need not work any more." 
"Why?" he asked. They said, "We bought you an ass from an Arab, 
and a pearl was found on it [hidden in the saddle]." He said to 
them, "Does its owner know of that?" They answered, "No." He 
said to them, "Go and give the pearl back to him." To their argu- 
ment that he need not return the pearl because the Arab was a 
heathen, he responded, "Do you think that Shimon ben Shetach 
is a barbarian? He would prefer to hear the Arab say, 'Blessed be 
the God of the Jews,' than possess all the riches of the world.. ..It is 
written, 'You shall not oppress your neighbor.' Now your neighbor 
is as your brother, and your brother is as your neighbor. Hence you 
learn that to rob a Gentile is robbery." 29 

According to Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik, the rabbinic leader, scholar, and 
Professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University, Shimon Ben Shetach in the 
above story gives a remarkable definition of a barbarian: "Anyone who fails 
to apply a uniform standard of mishpat (justice) and tzedek (righteousness) 
to all human beings, regardless of origin, color, or creed, is deemed 

Slavery in the Biblical Period 

From today's perspective, the widespread and legalized practice of slavery 
in biblical times seems to contradict Jewish values with regard to treatment 
of human beings. However, we must look at slavery as an evolving process; 
it was a common practice in ancient times and was thought to be an 
economic necessity. Therefore, the Torah does not outlaw it immediately, 


but, through its teachings and laws, the Torah paved the way toward the 
eventual elimination of slavery. 

Slavery in Israel's early history had many humane features in compar- 
ison with practices in other countries. Slaves' rights were guarded and 
regulated with humanitarian legislation. They were recognized as having 
certain inalienable rights based on their humanity. For example, slaves had 
to be allowed to rest on the Sabbath Day, just like their masters. 

The Talmud proclaimed legislation in order to mitigate slavery's harsh- 
ness, especially with regard to a Hebrew slave: 

He [the slave] should be with you in food and with you in drink, 
lest you eat clean bread and he moldy bread, or lest you drink old 
wine and he new wine, or lest you sleep on soft feathers and he on 
straw. So it was said, "Whoever buys a Hebrew slave, it is as if he 
purchased a master for himself."" 

It is significant that, unlike the law of the United States before the Civil 
War, the Biblical fugitive-slave law protected the runaway slave: 

You shall not deliver to his master a bondsman that is escaped from 
his master unto you. He shall dwell with you in the midst of you, 
in the place which he shall choose within one of your gates, where 
he likes it best; you shall not wrong him. (Deuteronomy 23:16, 17) 

Violations of Human Rights 

One test of the decency of a community is in its attitude toward strangers. 
A just society teaches its members to welcome outsiders and to be kind to 
those who are disadvantaged. 

Unfortunately, the history of the world is largely a history of exploita- 
tion and the violation of human rights. Today in many countries there is 
widespread discrimination based on race, religion, nationality, and 
economic status. As will be discussed in Chapter Eight, half the world's 
people lack adequate food, shelter, employment, education, health care, 
clean water, and other basic necessities — often as a result of injustice and 


Perhaps no people has historically suffered more from prejudice than 
the Jews. The Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust are just three 
of the most horrible examples in Jewish and human history. Many times 
Jews have been killed, expelled from countries where they had lived and 
contributed for many generations, subjected to pogroms, or converted at 
swordpoint, solely because they were Jewish. Whenever conditions were 
bad, the economy suffered, or there was a plague, Jews were a convenient 

Anti-Semitism continues today. Nazi-type groups and the Ku Klux 
Klan use the Internet and other means to spread their hateful messages. 
There are several groups that preach that the Holocaust never occurred. 
Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League are working to 
reduce anti-Semitism, but much more needs to be done to eliminate this 
ancient but still ever-present and virulent disease. 

It is essential to educate all people about the evils of anti-Semitism and 
other forms of discrimination. In addition to openly confronting and 
opposing anti-Semitism and racism, it is also necessary to work to reduce 
or eliminate injustice, poverty, slums, hunger, illiteracy, unemployment, 
homelessness, and other social ills. Just, democratic societies will be far 
safer for everyone, including Jews. 

Jewish Views on Racism 

Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik indicates how strong Jewish views against 
racism are: 

From the standpoint of the Torah there can be no distinction 
between one human being and another on the basis of race or color. 
Any discrimination shown to another human being on account of 
the color of his or her skin constitutes loathsome barbarity. 52 

He points out that Judaism does recognize distinctions between Jews and 
non-Jews, but this does not derive from any concept of inferiority, but "is 
based on the unique and special burdens that are placed upon Jews." 13 The 
prophet Amos challenges the state of mind that looks down on darker- 
skinned people, in a ringing declaration on the equality of all races and 


nations. He compares the Jewish people to blacks and indicates that God is 
even concerned with Israel's enemies, such as the Philistines and Syrians. 

Are you not as the children of the Ethiopians unto me, 

O children of Israel? says the Lord. 

Have I not brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? 

And the Philistines from Caphtor, 

And the Syrians from Kir? (Amos 9:7) 

Judaism teaches the sacredness of every person, but this is not what has 
always been practiced in our society. And, as with many other moral issues, 
religion has too seldom spoken out in protest. Rabbi Abraham Joshua 
Heschel points out the tremendous threat that racism poses to humanity: 

Racism is worse than idolatry; Racism is Satanism, unmitigated evil. 
Few of us seem to realize how insidious, how radical, how universal 
an evil racism is. Few of us realize that racism is man's gravest 
threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason, 
the maximum of cruelty for a minimum of thinking.' 4 

He points out that bigotry is inconsistent with a proper relationship with 

Prayer and prejudice cannot dwell in the same heart. Worship 
without compassion is worse than self-deception; it is an abomi- 
nation. 53 

Rabbi Heschel asserts that "what is lacking is a sense of the 
monstrosity of inequality." 36 Consistent with the Jewish view that every 
person is created in God's image, he boldly states: "God is every man's pedi- 
gree. He is either the Father of all men or of no men. The image of God is 
either in every man or in no man." 37 

It is an embarrassing fact that most of America's religious institutions 
did not originally take the lead in proclaiming the evil of segregation; they 
had to be prodded into action by the decision of the Supreme Court of the 
United States in the case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954- 


Based on Jewish values of compassion and justice, many Jews were 
active in the struggle for civil rights. Two Jewish college students, Andrew 
Goodman and Michael Schwerner, along with a black student, James 
Chaney, were brutally murdered while working for civil rights in Missis- 
sippi in 1964- After the Six-Day War, the Black Power movement, and the 
rise of ethnic pride in the late 1960s, some fissures developed in the 
decades-long alliance of Jews and African- Americans for progress in 
America. But while some on both sides would emphasize points of dishar- 
mony, Jews and African-Americans have many common interests and 
goals and have much to gain by working together for a more just, compas- 
sionate, peaceful, and harmonious society, as is modeled by the continuing 
close cooperation between the Congressional Black Caucus and Jewish 
members of Congress on many issues. 

Jewish identification with disadvantaged people is rooted in Jewish 
historical experience: we were slaves in Egypt and have often lived as 
oppressed second-class citizens (or worse) in ghettos, deprived of freedom 
and rights. Hence, we should understand the frustrations of other minori- 
ties, here and elsewhere, and their impatient yearning for equality and 
human dignity. 

It is significant that the government of Israel has for some time had a 
policy of preferential treatment for immigrants who need help adjusting to 
their new home. Special programs have been devised for the children of 
Mizrachi (Middle Eastern) and Ethiopian Jews who come from homes 
where there is low literacy. Compensatory measures include free nurseries, 
longer school days and school years, special tutoring and curricula, addi- 
tional funds for equipment and supplies, extra counseling services, and 
preferential acceptance to academic secondary schools. Unfortunately, 
there is also some discriminatory treatment and segregation: Israel is not 
yet ideal in its treatment of some newcomers and minorities. 

In summary, Jewish values stress the equality of every person, love of 
neighbor, proper treatment of strangers, and the imitation of God's attrib- 
utes of justice, compassion, and kindness. Hence, it is essential that Jews 
work for the establishment of societies that will protect the rights of every 
person, each of whom is entitled, as a child of God, to a life of equitable 
opportunities for education, employment, and human dignity. 


Justice, justice shall you pursue. (Deuteronomy 16:20) 

fundamental concepts of Judaism. The prevalence of injustice in 
today's world makes this pursuit all the more urgent. 

Note two things about the Torah verse above, which is a keynote of 
Jewish social values: 

1. Words are seldom repeated in the Torah. When they are, it is gener- 
ally to teach us something new. In this case, it is to stress the supreme 
importance of applying even-handed justice to all. Rabbenu Bachya ben 
Asher, a thirteenth-century Torah commentator, stresses, "justice whether 

to your profit or loss, whether in word or action, whether to Jew or non- 


2. We are told to pursue justice. Hence we are not to wait for the right 
opportunity to come along, the right time and place, but instead we are to 
actively seek opportunities to practice justice. 

Many other statements in the Jewish tradition emphasize the great 
importance placed on working for justice: 

The book of Proverbs asserts: "To do righteousness and justice is 
preferred by God above sacrifice" (Proverbs 21:3). The psalmist exhorts: 
"Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the 
afflicted and the destitute" (Psalms 82:3). The prophets constantly stress 
the importance of applying justice: 



Learn to do well — seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the 
fatherless, plead for the widow.. ..Zion shall be redeemed with 
justice, and they who return to her, with righteousness. (Isaiah 

The Lord of Hosts shall be exalted in justice, 

The Holy God shows Himself holy in righteousness. (Isaiah 5:16) 

To practice justice is considered among the highest demands of 
prophetic religion: 

It has been told you, O human being, what is good 
And what the Lord requires of you: 
Only to do justly, love chesed (mercy, kindness) 
And walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) 

The prophet Amos warns the people that without the practice of justice, 
God is repelled by their worship: 

Take away from Me the noise of your songs 

and let Me not hear the melody of your stringed instruments, 

but let justice well up as waters, 

and righteousness as a mighty stream. (Amos 5:23, 24) 

The practice of justice is even part of the symbolic betrothal between the 
Jewish people and God: 

And I will betroth you unto Me forever; And I will betroth you 
unto Me in righteousness, justice, loving kindness, and compas- 
sion. And I will betroth you unto Me in faithfulness. And you shall 
know the Lord. (Hosea 2:21-22) 

The prophets of Israel were the greatest champions of social justice in 
world history. Jeremiah (5:28) rebukes the Jewish people when they fail to 
plead the cause of the orphan or help the needy. He castigates an entire 


generation, for "in your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the inno- 
cent poor" (2.34)- Ezekiel rebukes the whole nation for "using oppression, 
robbing, defrauding the poor and the needy, and extorting from the 
stranger" (22.29). Isaiah (5:8) and Micah (2:2) criticize wealthy Jews who 
build up large holdings of property at the expense of their neighbors. The 
prophetic books are full of such moral reproof. 

The patriarch Abraham even challenges God to practice justice: 
"That be far from You to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with 
the wicked ... shall the Judge of all the earth not do justly?" (Genesis 18:25) 
Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, former President of Bar Ilan University, points 
out that Judaism teaches a special kind of justice, an "empathic justice," 

seeks to make people identify themselves with each other — with 
each other's needs, with each other's hopes and aspirations, with 
each other's defeats and frustrations. Because Jews have known the 
distress of slaves and the loneliness of strangers, we are to project 
ourselves into their souls and make their plight our own. 2 

This concept is reinforced by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, the Bostoner 

The fact that the Jewish people had to experience 400 years of 
Egyptian exile, including 210 years of actual slavery, was critical in 
molding our national personality into one of compassion and 
concern for our fellow man, informed by the realization that we 

have a vital role to play in the world For this reason, God begins 

the Ten Commandments with a reminder that "I am the Lord, 
your God, who took you out of Egypt" (Exodus 20:2). We must 
constantly remember that we were slaves in order to always appre- 
ciate the ideal of freedom, not only for ourselves but also for 
others. We must do what we can to help others to live free of the 
bondage of the evil spirit, free of the bondage of cruelty, of abuse 
and lack of caring.' 


Based on these teachings, Jews have regarded the practice of justice and 
the seeking of a just society as Divine imperatives. This has inspired many 
Jews throughout history to lead the struggle for better social conditions. 
The teachings of the Torah, prophets, and sages have been the most 
powerful inspiration for justice in the history of the world. 

Giving Charity (Tzedakah) 

Judaism places great stress on the giving of money to help the poor and 
hungry and to support communal purposes and institutions — as an act of 
righteousness (tzedakah). In the Jewish tradition, tzedakah is not an act of 
condescension from one person to another who is in need. It is the fulfill- 
ment of a mitzvah, a commandment, to a fellow human being, who has 
equal status before God. Although Jewish tradition recognizes that the 
sharing of our resources is also an act of love (as the Torah states, "Love 
your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18]), it emphasizes that this act of 
sharing is an act of justice. This is to teach us that Jews are obligated to 
provide people who are in need with our love and concern. They are 
human beings created in the Divine image, who have a place and a purpose 
within God's creation. 

In the Jewish tradition, failure to give charity is equivalent to idolatry. 4 
Perhaps this is because a selfish person forgets the One Who created and 
provides for us all, and, in becoming preoccupied with personal material 
needs, makes himself or herself into an idol. The giving of charity by Jews 
is so widespread that Maimonides was able to say: "Never have I seen or 
heard of a Jewish community that did not have a charity fund." 5 

Charity even takes priority over the building of the Temple. King 
Solomon was prohibited from using the silver and gold that David, his 
father, had accumulated for the building of the Temple, because that 
wealth should have been used to feed the poor during the three years of 
famine in King David's reign (I Kings 7:51). 

Judaism mandates lending to the needy, to help them become econom- 
ically self-sufficient: 

And if your brother becomes impoverished, and his means fail in 
your proximity; then you shall strengthen him. ...Take no interest 


of him or increase. ...You shall not give him your money upon 
interest. (Leviticus 25:35-37) 

Every third year of the Sabbatical cycle, the needy are to receive the tithe 
for the poor (one tenth of one's income) (Deuteronomy 14:28, 26:12). 

The following Torah verse indicates the general Jewish view about 
helping the poor: 

If there shall be among you a needy person, one of your brethren, 
within any of your gates, in your land which the Lord your God 
gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand 
from your needy brother; but you shall surely open your hand unto 
him, and shall surely lend him sufficient for his need in that which 
he wants. (Deuteronomy 15:7—8) 

Jewish tradition views tzedakah not only as an act of love, but also as an act 
of justice; in fact, the word tzedakah comes from the word tzedek (justice). 
According to the Torah, the governing institutions of the Jewish commu- 
nity are responsible for helping needy people. 

Maimonides writes in his code of Jewish law that the highest form of 
tzedakah is to help a needy individual through "a gift or a loan, or by 
forming a business partnership with him, or by providing him with a job, 
until he is no longer dependent on the generosity of others." 6 This concept 
is based on the following Talmudic teaching: 

It is better to lend to a poor person than to give him alms, and best 
of all is to provide him with capital for business. 7 

Hence Jews should provide immediate help for poor people while also 
working for a just society in which there is no poverty. In Judaism, tzedakah 
is intertwined with the pursuit of social justice. 

An entire lengthy section of the Code of Jewish Law (Shulhan Arukh), 
Yoreh De'ah 247-259, is devoted to the many aspects of giving charity. 
Some of the more important concepts are given below: 


247:1: It is a positive religious obligation for a person to give as 
much charity as he can afford. (A tithe of ten percent of one's 
income is incumbent upon every Jew.) 

247:33: God has compassion on whoever has compassion on the 
poor. A person should think that, just as he asks of God all the 
time to sustain him and as he entreats God to hear his cry, so he 
should hear the cry of the poor. 

248:1: Every person is obliged to give charity. Even a poor person 
who is supported by charity is obliged to give from that which he 

249:3: A man should give charity cheerfully and out of the good- 
ness of his heart. He should anticipate the grief of the poor man 
and speak words of comfort to him. But if he gives in an angry and 
unwilling spirit, he loses any merit there is in giving. 
250:1: How much should be given to a poor man? "Sufficient for 
his need in that which he requires" (Deuteronomy 15:8). This 
means that if he is hungry, he should be fed; if he has no clothes, 
he should be given clothes; if he has no furniture, furniture should 
be brought for him. (This is to be dispensed by the person in 
charge of community charity funds.) 

According to the prophet Ezekiel, failure to help the needy led to the 
destruction of Sodom: 

Behold this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fullness of 
bread, and careless ease ... neither did she strengthen the hand of 
the poor and needy ... therefore I removed them when I saw it.... 
(Ezekiel 16:49, 50) 

A relationship between personal misfortune and a failure to help the poor 
is indicated in Proverbs 17:5, 21:13, and 28:27. For example, Proverbs 
21:13 states: "The person who fails to hear the cry of the poor will later also 
cry, but will not be answered." 


Acts of Loving Kindness 

As important as tzedakah is, the Jewish tradition states that even greater is 
gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness): 

One who gives a coin to a poor man is rewarded with six blessings, 
but he who encourages him with kind words is rewarded with 
eleven blessings. 8 

Of course, providing both charity and kind words is best of all. The sages 
interpret "acts of loving kindness" to include many types of gracious 
action, such as hospitality to travelers, providing for poor brides, visiting 
the sick, welcoming guests, burying the dead, and comforting mourners. 
Gemilut chasadim is deemed superior to acts of charity in several ways: 

No gift is needed for it but the giving of oneself; it may be done to 
the rich as well as to the poor; and it may be done not only to the 
living, but also to the dead (through burial). 9 

The purpose of the entire Torah is to teach gemilut chasadim. It starts and 
ends with an act of loving kindness. 

For in the third chapter of Genesis, the verse reads: "The Lord 
God made for Adam and his wife garments of skin and clothed 
them" (Genesis 3:21), and the last book of the Torah reports: "and 
He buried him (Moses) in the valley" (Deuteronomy 34:6). 10 

Jewish Views on Poverty 

Judaism places emphasis on justice, charity, and kindness to the poor 
because of the great difficulties poor people face: 

If all afflictions in the world were assembled on one side of the 
scale and poverty on the other, poverty would outweigh them all. 11 

Judaism believes that poverty is destructive to the human personality and 
negatively shapes a person's life experiences: "The ruin of the poor is their 


poverty" (Proverbs 10:15). "Where there is no sustenance, there is no 
learning." 12 "The world is darkened for him who has to look to others for 
sustenance." 1 ' "The sufferings of poverty cause a person to disregard his 
own sense (of right) and that of his Maker." 

Judaism generally does not encourage an ascetic life. Insufficiency of 
basic necessities does not ease the path toward holiness, except perhaps for 
very spiritual individuals. In many cases the opposite is true; poverty can 
lead to the breaking of a person's spirit. This is one reason that holiness is 
linked to justice. 

Many Torah laws are designed to aid the poor: the produce of corners 
of the field are to be left uncut for the poor to take (Leviticus 19:9); the 
gleanings of the wheat harvest and fallen fruit are to be left for the needy 
(Leviticus 19:10); during the Sabbatical year, the land is to be left fallow, 
and the poor (as well as animals) may eat of whatever grows freely 
(Leviticus 25:2-7). 

Failure to treat the poor properly is a desecration of God: "The person 
who mocks the poor blasphemes his Maker" (Proverbs 17:5). Abraham, 
the founder of Judaism, always went out of his way to aid the poor. He set 
up inns that were open in all four directions on the highways so that the 
poor and the wayfarer would have access to food and drink when in need. 15 

The Jewish tradition sees God as siding with the poor and oppressed. 
He intervened in Egypt on behalf of poor, oppressed slaves. His prophets 
constantly castigated those who oppressed the needy. Two proverbs rein- 
force this message. A negative formulation is in Proverbs 14:31: "He who 
oppresses a poor man insults his Maker." Proverbs 19:17 puts it more posi- 
tively: "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord." Hence helping a 
needy person is like providing a loan to the Creator of the universe. 


The Talmud teaches that "Jews are rachmanim b'nei rachmanim (compas- 
sionate children of compassionate parents), and one who shows no pity for 
fellow creatures is assuredly not of the seed of Abraham, our father." 16 The 
rabbis considered Jews to be distinguished by three characteristics: 
compassion, modesty, and benevolence. 1 ' As indicated previously, we are 
instructed to feel empathy for strangers, "for you were strangers in the land 


of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 10:19). The birkat ha-mazon (grace recited after 
meals) speaks of God compassionately feeding the whole world. 

We are not only to have compassion for Jews, but for all who are in 

Have we not all one Father? 

Has not one God created us? (Malachi 2:10) 

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes very eloquently about the impor- 
tance of compassion: 

Do not suppress this compassion, this sympathy especially with the 
sufferings of your fellowman. It is the warning voice of duty, which 
points out to you your brother in every sufferer, and your own 
sufferings in his, and awakens the love which tells you that you 
belong to him and his sufferings with all the powers that you have. 
Do not suppress it!. ..See in it the admonition of God that you are 
to have no joy so long as a brother suffers by your side. 18 

Rabbi Samuel Dresner states that "Compassion is the way God enters our 
life in terms of man's relation to his fellow man." 19 

The Jewish stress on compassion finds expression in many groups and 
activities. Jewish communities generally have most, if not all, of the 
following: a Bikur Cholim Society to provide medical expenses for the sick, 
and to visit them and bring them comfort and cheer; a Malbish Arumim 
Society to provide clothing for the poor; a Hachnasat Kalah Society to 
provide for needy brides; a Bet Yetomin Society to aid orphans; a Talmud 
Torah Organization to support a free school for poor children; a Gemilat 
Chesed Society to lend money at no interest to those in need; an Ozer 
Dalim Society to dispense charity to the poor; a Hachnasat Orchim Society 
to provide shelter for homeless travelers; a Chevrah Kaddishah Society to 
attend to the proper burial of the dead; and Essen Teg Institutions to 
provide food and shelter for poor students who attend schools in the 
community. 20 


Judaism also stresses compassion for animals. There are many laws in 
the Torah which mandate kindness to animals. A farmer is commanded 
not to muzzle his ox when he threshes corn (Deuteronomy 25:4) and not 
to plow with an ox and an ass together (Deuteronomy 22:10), since the 
weaker animal would not be able to keep up with the stronger one. 
Animals must be allowed to rest on the Sabbath Day (Exodus 20:10, 
23:12), a teaching so important that it is part of the Ten Commandments. 
A person is commanded to feed his animals before sitting down to his own 
meal. 21 These concepts are summarized in the Hebrew phrase tsa'ar ba'alei 
chayim — the mandate not to cause "pain to any living creature." 

The Psalmist emphasizes God's concern for animals, for "His tender 
mercies are over all His creatures" (Psalm 145:9). He pictures God as 
"satisfying the desire of every living creature" (Psalm 145:16) and 
"providing food for the beasts and birds" (Psalm 147:9). Perhaps the Jewish 
attitude toward animals is epitomized by the statement in Proverbs: "The 
righteous person regards the life of his or her animal" (Proverb 12:10). In 
Judaism, one who does not treat animals with compassion cannot be 
considered a righteous individual. 22 

Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (1522-1570) indicates the importance 
Judaism places on the proper treatment of animals, as well as people: 

[One should] respect all creatures, recognizing in them the great- 
ness of the Creator who formed man with wisdom, and whose 
wisdom is contained in all creatures. He should realize that they 
greatly deserve to be honored, since the One Who Forms All 
Things, the Wise One Who is exalted above all, cared to create 
them. If one despises them, God forbid, it reflects on the honor of 
their Creator... .It is evil in the sight of the Holy One, Blessed be 
He, if any of His creatures are despised. 23 

Consistent with this precept, the Jewish sages teach, "Whoever shows 
mercy to God's creatures is granted mercy from Heaven." 24 

Judaism and Business Ethics 

The Torah provides instruction in honest business practices: 


You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length, of 
weight, or in quantity. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah [the 
standard dry measure] and a just hin [a measure for liquids], shall 
you have. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land 
of Egypt (Leviticus 19:35, 36). 

The rabbis of the Talmud give concrete expression to the many Torah and 
prophetic teachings regarding justice and righteousness. They indicate in 
detail what is proper when conducting business. Rabbinic literature trans- 
lates prophetic ideals into the language of the marketplace in terms of fair 
prices, the avoidance of false weights and measures, proper business 
contracts, fair methods of competition, and awareness of the duties of 
employers to employees and of workers to their employers. 

Rava, a fourth- century Babylonian teacher, taught the wealthy 
merchants of his town the importance of scrupulous honesty in business 
dealings. He stated that on Judgment Day the first question God asks a 
person is "Were you reliable in your business dealings?" 23 The rabbis stress 
that a person's word is a sacred bond that should not be broken. The 
Mishnah states that God will exact punishment for those who do not abide 
by their promises. 26 Cheating a Gentile is considered even worse than 
cheating a Jew, for "besides being a violation of the moral law, it brings 
Israel's religion into contempt, and desecrates the name of Israel's God." 27 

The sages are very critical of attempts to take away a person's liveli- 
hood by unfair competition. 28 Their overall view of business ethics can be 
summarized by the verses "And you shall do that which is right and good 
in the sight of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:18), and "better is a little with 
righteousness than great revenues with injustice" (Proverbs 16:8). 

The very high ethical standards of the Talmudic sages are exemplified 
by the following story: 

Reb Saphra had wine to sell. A certain customer came in to buy 
wine at a time when Reb Saphra was saying the Sh'ma prayer 
[which cannot be interrupted by speaking]. The customer said, 
"Will you sell me the wine for such an amount?" When Reb 
Saphra did not respond, the customer thought he was not satisfied 


with the price and raised his bid. When Reb Saphra had finished 
his prayer, he said, "I decided in my heart to sell the wine to you at 
the first price you mentioned; therefore I cannot accept your 
higher bid." 29 

It is essential that Jews work to establish systems and conditions consistent 
with the basic Jewish values of justice, compassion, kindness, the sacred- 
ness of every life, the imitation of God's attributes, love of neighbors, 
consideration of the stranger, compassion for animals, and the highest of 
business ethics. 


In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He, created the first human 
being (Adam) , He took him and let him pass before all the trees of the 
Garden of Eden and said to him: "See my works, how fine and excel- 
lent they are! All that I have created, for you have I created them. Think 
upon this and do not corrupt and desolate My world, For if you corrupt 
it, there is no one to set it right after you." 
(Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28) 

"It is very good" (Genesis 1:31). Everything was in harmony as God 
had planned, the waters were clean, and the air was pure. But what must 
God think about the world today? 

What must God think when the rain He provided to nourish our crops 
is often acidic, due to the many chemicals emitted by industries and auto- 
mobiles; when the ozone layer He provided to protect all life on earth from 
the sun's radiation is being depleted; when the abundance of species of 
plants and animals that He created are becoming extinct, before we have 
even been able to study and catalog many of them; when the fertile soil He 
provided is quickly being eroded; when the climatic conditions that He 
designed to meet our needs are threatened by global warming? 

Consider the extreme differences between conditions at the time of 
creation and conditions today: 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The 
earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face 



of the deep; and the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the 
waters. (Genesis 1:1—2) 

In the beginning of the technological age , man recreated the heavens and 
the earth. To the earth he gave new form with dynamite and bulldozer, 
and the void of the heavens he filled with smog. 

And God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the 
waters. ...Let the waters under the heavens be gathered into one 
place, and let the dry land appear." (Genesis 1:6) 

Then man took oil from beneath the ground and spread it over the 
waters, until it coated the beaches with slime. He washed the topsoil 
from the fertile prairies and sank it in the ocean depths . He took waste 
from his mines and filled in the valleys, while real estate developers 
leveled the hills. And man said, "Well, business is business." 

Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding 
seed and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each 
according to its kind, upon the earth.. ..Let the earth bring forth 
living creatures according to their kinds." And it was so. And God 
saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:11, 24) 

But man was not so sure. He found that mosquitoes annoyed him, so 
he killed them with DDT. And the robins died, too, and man said, 
"What a pity." Man defoliated forests in the name of modern warfare. 
He filled the streams with industrial waste, and his children read about 
fish the history books. 

So God created humans in His own image; in the image of God He 
created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be 
fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and have 
dominion over ... every living thing." (Genesis 1:27-28) 


So man multiplied and multiplied — and spread his works across the land 
until the last green blade was black with asphalt, until the skies were 
ashen and the waters reeked, until neither bird sang nor child ran 
laughing through cool grass. So man subdued the earth and made it over 

in his image , and in the name of progress he drained it of its life Until 

the earth was without form and void, and darkness was once again upon 
the face of the deep, and man himself was but a painful memory in the 
mind of God. 1 

Today's environmental threats bring to mind the Biblical ten plagues 
that appear in the Torah portions which are read in synagogues in the 
weeks before the ecological holiday of Tu B'Shvat: 

• When we consider the threats to our land, waters, and air due 
to pesticides and other chemical pollutants, resource scarci- 
ties, acid rain, threats to our climate, etc., we can easily 
enumerate ten modern "plagues." 

• The Egyptians were subjected to one plague at a time, while 
the modern plagues threaten us all at once. 

• The Jews in Goshen were spared most of the Biblical plagues, 
while every person on earth is imperiled by the modern 

• Instead of an ancient Pharaoh's heart being hardened, our 
hearts today have been hardened by the greed, materialism, 
and waste that are at the root of current environmental threats. 

• God provided the Biblical plagues to free the Israelites, while 
today we must apply God's teachings in order to save ourselves 
and our precious but endangered planet. 

Jewish Teachings on Ecology 

Many fundamental Torah principles express and make concrete the 
Biblical statement, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof 
(Psalms 24:1): 


1. People are to be co-workers with God in helping to preserve and 
improve the world. 

The Talmudic sages assert that the assigned role of the Jewish people is to 
enhance the world as "partners of God in the work of creation." 2 The 
following Psalm reinforces this concept: 

When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your hands, 

The moon and work which You have established, 

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that 

You do care for him? 

Yet You have made him little less than God, and do crown him 

with glory and honor. 

You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands; 

You have put all things under his feet... (Psalms 8:4—7) 

The Talmudic sages express great concern about preserving the environ- 
ment and preventing pollution. They state: "It is forbidden to live in a 
town which has no garden or greenery."' Threshing floors must be placed 
far enough from a town so that it will not be dirtied by chaff carried by 
winds. 4 Tanneries must be kept at least fifty cubits (a cubit is about half a 
meter) from a town and may be placed only on the east side of a town, so 
that odors and pollution will be carried away from the town by the 
prevailing winds from the west. 3 

2. Everything belongs to God. We are to be stewards of the earth, to 
insure that its produce is available for all God's children. 

There is an apparent contradiction between two verses in Psalms: "The 
earth is the Lord's" (Psalms 24:1) and "The heavens are the heavens of 
God, but the earth He has given to human beings" (Psalms 115:16). The 
apparent discrepancy is cleared up in the following way: Before a person 
says a bracha (a blessing), before he acknowledges God's ownership of the 
land and its products, then "the earth is the Lord's"; after a person has said 
a bracha, acknowledging God's ownership and that we are stewards to 
ensure that God's works are properly used and shared, then "the earth He 
has given to human beings." 6 


Property is a sacred trust given by God; it must be used to fulfill God's 
purposes. No person has absolute or exclusive control over his or her 
possessions. The concept that people have custodial care of the earth, as 
opposed to ownership, is illustrated by this ancient Jewish story: 

Two men were fighting over a piece of land. Each claimed owner- 
ship and bolstered his claim with apparent proof. To resolve their 
differences, they agreed to put the case before the rabbi. The rabbi 
listened but could come to no decision because both seemed to be 
right. Finally he said, "Since I cannot decide to whom this land 
belongs, let us ask the land." He put his ear to the ground and, after 
a moment, straightened up. "Gentlemen, the land says it belongs 
to neither of you but that you belong to it."' 

As we have discussed, even the produce of the field does not belong solely 
to the person who farms the land. The poor are entitled to a portion: 

And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly 
reap the corner of your field, neither shall you gather the gleaning 
of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, neither 
shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave 
them for the poor and for the stranger; I am the Lord, your God. 
(Leviticus 19: 9-10) 

These portions set aside for the poor were not voluntary contributions 
based on kindness. They were, in essence, a regular Divine assessment. 
Because God is the real owner of the land, He claims a share of the bounty 
which He has provided to be given to the poor. 

As a reminder that "the earth is the Lord's," the land must be 
permitted to rest and lie fallow every seven years (the Sabbatical year): 

And six years you shall sow your land, and gather in the increase 
thereof, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that 
the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the animals 


of the field shall eat. In like manner you shall deal with your vine- 
yard, and with your olive yard. (Exodus 23: 10, 11) 

The Sabbatical year also has ecological benefits: the land was given a 
chance to rest and renew its fertility. 

Judaism asserts that there is one God who created the entire earth as a 
unity, in ecological balance, and that everything is connected to every- 
thing else. This idea is perhaps best expressed by Psalm 104: 

... You [God] are the One Who sends forth springs into 

brooks, that they may run between mountains, 

To give drink to every animal of the fields; the creatures 

of the forest quench their thirst. 

Beside them dwell the fowl of the heavens... 

You water the mountains from Your upper chambers... 

You cause the grass to spring up for the cattle, 

and herb, for the service of humans, to bring forth 

bread from the earth... 

How manifold are your works, O Lord! In wisdom You have made 

them all; the earth is full of Your property... 

Some argue that people have been given a license to exploit the earth and 
its creatures, because God gave humans "dominion over the fish of the sea, 
and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creeps upon 
the earth" (Genesis 1:28). 8 However, the Talmudic sages interpret 
dominion as meaning guardianship or stewardship, being co-workers with 
God in taking care of and improving the world, not as a right to conquer 
and exploit animals and the earth. The fact that people's dominion over 
animals is limited is indicated by God's first (completely vegetarian) 
dietary regime (Genesis 1:29). 

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Ha-Kohen Kook, the first Ashkenazic Chief 
Rabbi of pre-state Israel, states that dominion does not mean the arbitrary 
power of a tyrannical ruler who cruelly governs in order to satisfy personal 
desires. 9 He observes that such a repulsive form of servitude could not be 
forever sealed in the world of God whose "tender mercies are over all His 


work" (Psalm 145:9). 10 God indicates the intended human role when he 
tells Adam and Eve that they are to work the earth and protect it (Genesis 

3. We are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value. 

This prohibition, called bal tashchit ("y° u shall not destroy") is based on the 
following Torah statement: 

When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against 
it to take it, you shall not destroy (lo tashchit) the trees thereof by 
wielding an ax against them. You may eat of them but you shall not 
cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be 
besieged by you? Only the trees of which you know that they are 
not trees for food, them you may destroy and cut down, that you 
may build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until 
it fall. (Deuteronomy 20:19, 20) 

This Torah prohibition is very specific. Taken in its most literal sense, it 
prohibits only the destruction of fruit trees during wartime. During 
Talmudic times, the rabbis greatly expanded the objects, methods of 
destruction, and situations that are covered by bal tashchit: 

Whoever breaks vessels, or tears garments, or destroys a building, 
or clogs a well, or does away with food in a destructive manner 
violates the prohibition of bal tashchit." 

Early sages reasoned that if the principle applied even during a wartime 
situation, it must apply also at all other times. Similarly, they deduced that 
other means of destruction besides direct destruction with an ax (such as 
destroying trees by diverting a source of water) were also forbidden. Finally, 
they ruled by analogy that bal tashchit regulated not only trees, or even all 
natural objects, but everything of potential use, whether created by God or 
altered by people. 12 Talmudic rulings on bal tashchit also prohibit the 
unnecessary killing of animals" and the eating of extravagant foods when 
one can eat simpler ones. 14 In summary, bal tashchit prohibits the destruc- 


tion, complete or incomplete, direct or indirect, of all objects of potential 
benefit to people. 

The following Talmudic statements illustrate the seriousness with 
which the rabbis considered the violation of bal tashchit: 

The sage Rabbi Hanina attributed the early death of his son to the 
fact that the boy had chopped down a fig tree. 15 

Jews should be taught when very young that it is a sin to waste 
even small amounts of food. 16 

Rav Zutra taught: "One who covers an oil lamp or uncovers a 
naphtha lamp transgresses the prohibition of bal tashchit" 11 [Both 
actions mentioned would cause a faster (hence wasteful) 
consumption of the fuel.] 

Maimonides makes explicit the Talmudic expansion: 

It is forbidden to cut down fruit-bearing trees outside a besieged 
city, nor may a water channel be deflected from them so that they 
wither.... Not only one who cuts down trees, but also one who 
smashes household goods, tears clothes, demolishes a building, 
stops up a spring, or destroys articles of food with destructive 
intent transgresses the command "you must not destroy." 18 

The Sefer Ha-Hinukh, a thirteenth century text which explicates the 
613 mitzvot in detail, indicates that the underlying purpose of bal tashchit is 
to help one to learn to act like the righteous, who oppose all waste and 

The purpose of this mitzvah [bal tashchit] is to teach us to love that 
which is good and worthwhile and to cling to it, so that good 
becomes a part of us and we avoid all that is evil and destructive. 
This is the way of the righteous and those who improve society, 
who love peace and rejoice in the good in people and bring them 


close to Torah: that nothing, not even a grain of mustard, should 
be lost to the world, that they should regret any loss or destruction 
that they see, and if possible they will prevent any destruction that 
they can. Not so are the wicked, who are like demons, who rejoice 
in destruction of the world, and they destroy themselves. 19 

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, the leading Orthodox rabbi of nineteenth- 
century Germany, viewed bal tashchit as the most basic Jewish principle of 
all — acknowledging the sovereignty of God and the limitation of our own 
will and ego. When we preserve the world around us, we act with the 
understanding that God owns everything. However, when we destroy, we 
are, in effect, worshipping the idols of our own desires, living only for self- 
gratification without remembering God. By observing bal tashchit, we 
restore our harmony not only with the world around us, but also with God's 
will, which we place before our own: 

"Do not destroy anything" is the first and most general call of 
God. ...If you should now raise your hand to play a childish game, 
to indulge in senseless rage, wishing to destroy that which you 
should only use, wishing to exterminate that which you should 
only gain advantage from, if you should regard the beings beneath 
you as objects without rights, not perceiving God Who created 
them, and therefore desire that they feel the might of your 
presumptuous mood, instead of using them only as the means of 
wise human activity — then God's call proclaims to you, "Do not 
destroy anything! Be a mensch [good human being] ! Only if you use 
the things around you for wise human purposes, sanctified by the 
word of My teaching, only then are you a mensch and have the 
right over them which I have given you as a human. However, if 
you destroy, if you ruin, at that moment you are not a human ... 
and have no right to the things around you. I lent them to you for 
wise use only; never forget that I lent them to you. As soon as you 
use them unwisely, be it the greatest or the smallest, you commit 
treachery against My world, you commit murder and robbery 
against My property, you sin against Me!" This is what God calls 


unto you, and with this call does God represent the greatest and 
the smallest against you and grants the smallest as well as the 
greatest a right against your presumptuousness....In truth, there is 
no one nearer to idolatry than one who can disregard the fact that 
all things are the creatures and property of God, and who then 
presumes also to have the right, because he has the might, to 
destroy them according to a presumptuous act of will. Yes, that one 
is already serving the most powerful idols — anger, pride, and above 
all ego, which in its passion regards itself as the master of things. 20 

Rabbi Hirsch also teaches that "destruction" includes using more things 
(or things of greater value) than is necessary to obtain one's aim. 21 The 
following Midrash is related to this concept: 

Two men entered a shop. One ate coarse bread and vegetables, 
while the other ate fine bread, fat meat, and drank old wine. The 
one who ate fine food suffered harm, while the one who had coarse 
food escaped harm. Observe how simply animals live and how 
healthy they are as a result. 22 

Ecology in Jewish History and Prayers 

Much of early Jewish history is closely connected to the natural environ- 
ment. The patriarchs and their descendants were shepherds. Since their 
work led them into many types of natural settings, including mountains, 
prairies, wilderness, and desert, they developed a love and appreciation of 
natural wonders and beauty. According to Charles W. Eliot, "no race has 
ever surpassed the Jewish descriptions of either the beauties or the terrors 
of the nature which environs man." 23 

Jews have often pictured God through His handiwork in nature. 
Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, when marveling at the heavenly 
bodies, intuits that there must be a Creator of these wonders. The prophet 
Isaiah exclaims: 

Lift up your eyes on high, 

And see: Who has created these? 


He that brings out their host by numbers, 

He calls them all by name; 

By the greatness of His might, for He is strong in power, 

Not one fails. (Isaiah 40:26) 

The greatest prophet, Moses, during the years when he was a shepherd, 
learned many facts about nature, which were later useful in leading the 
Israelites in the desert. The Ten Commandments and the Torah were 
revealed to the Jews at Mount Sinai, in a natural setting. The forty years of 
wandering in the wilderness trained Israel in the appreciation of natural 

Many Jewish prayers extol God for His wondrous creations. Before 
reciting the Sh'ma every morning, religious Jews say the following prayer 
to thank God for the new day: 

Blessed are You, Oh Lord our God, King of the universe. 

Who forms light and creates darkness, 

Who makes peace and creates all things. 

Who in mercy gives light to the earth 

And to them who dwell thereon, 

And in Your goodness renews the creation 

Every day continually. 

How manifold are Your works, O Lord! 

In wisdom You have made them all; 

The earth is full of Your possessions... 

Be blessed, O Lord our God, 

For the excellency of Your handiwork, 

And for the bright luminaries 

Which You have made: 

They shall glorify You forever. 

In the Sabbath morning service, the following prayer is recited: "The 
heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handi- 
work" (Psalms 19:2). 


However, Judaism does not only consider the "heavens above." It also 
deals with practical, down-to-earth issues. The following law, which 
commands disposal of sewage, even in wartime, illustrates the sensitivity of 
the Torah to environmental cleanliness, by mandating the burial of waste 
in the ground, not dumping it into rivers or littering the countryside! 

You shall have a place outside the military camp, when you shall 
go forth abroad. And you shall have a spade among your weapons; 
and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig therewith, 
and shall turn back and cover that which comes from you. 
(Deuteronomy 23:13-15) 

Traditionally, the preservation of the Land of Israel has been a central 
theme in Judaism. The three pilgrimage festivals (Pesach, Shavuot, and 
Sukkot) are agricultural as well as spiritual celebrations. Jews pray for dew 
and rain in their proper time so that there will be abundant harvests in 

Current Ecological Threats 

As mentioned in the Preface, in 1993 over 1,670 scientists, including 104 
Nobel laureates in science, signed a "World Scientists' Warning to 
Humanity" which argues that human beings are inflicting "irreversible 
damage on the environment and on critical resources," and that "funda- 
mental changes are urgent" if "vast human misery is to be avoided and our 
global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated." 24 While 
there has been some progress since that warning was issued, there has also 
been further deterioration in many areas: 

• Scientists surveyed by the Museum of Natural History in New York 
City indicate that the Earth is experiencing the fastest rate of extinc- 
tion of species in history. 25 Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson writes: 

There is no question in my mind that the most harmful part of 
ongoing environmental despoliation is the loss of biodiversity. 
The reason is that the variety of organisms ... once lost, cannot be 


regained. If diversity is sustained in wild ecosystems, the biosphere 
can be recovered and used by future generations to any degree 
desired and with benefits literally beyond measure. To the extent 
it is diminished, humanity will be diminished for all generations to 
come. 26 

Industrial chemicals and pesticides are causing a depletion of the 
ozone layer. This increases the penetration of deadly ultraviolet radia- 
tion at the earth's surface, which causes cataracts, weakened immune 
systems, and skin cancers in humans and kills wildlife, crops, and vege- 
tation. Every winter and spring, massive "holes" in the ozone layer 
appear over the North and South Poles. U.S. governmental agencies 
announced in October, 1998 that the hole in the ozone layer over 
Antarctica measured ten million square miles, an area larger than 
North America. 27 

Inefficient use of depletable groundwater threatens food production 
and essential human systems. Due to heavy demand for water, there are 
serious shortages in about eighty countries (including Israel), which 
contain forty percent of the world's population. 28 According to a report 
released recently by Population Action International, over the next 
twenty-five years, the number of people facing chronic or severe water 
shortages could increase from 505 million to more than three billion. 
The report said water shortages would be worst in the Middle East and 
much of Africa. 29 Globally, two billion people live in areas with 
chronic water shortages. 30 The Ogalalla aquifer that provides water for 
one-fifth of all U.S. irrigated land is overdrawn by twelve billion cubic 
meters per year, a problem that has already caused more than two 
million acres of farmland to be taken out of irrigation. In California's 
Central Valley, which grows half of U.S. fruits and vegetables, ground- 
water withdrawal exceeds recharge by one billion cubic meters per 
year. 31 A combination of population growth, drought, desertification, 
waste of water, and global warming is causing a serious water shortage 
in China that experts say could induce environmental and political 
crises. Officials are blaming drought for a 9.3 percent drop in the 


summer grain yield, and water rationing has been imposed on residents 
and industries in nearly a hundred cities. 32 

• Pollution of lakes, rivers, and groundwater further limits supplies of 
usable water. In the past few decades, industrialization, population 
growth, and the heavy use of chemical fertilizers have doubled the 
amount of nitrogen in circulation, contributing to environmental 
problems worldwide and possibly to human health problems such as 
cancer and memory failure. Hardest hit are coastal bays and oceans — 
deadly algae blooms are cropping up from Finnish beaches to Hong 
Kong harbors, massive unexpected fish kills are occurring from Mary- 
land's Chesapeake Bay to Russia's Black Sea, and coral reefs are in 
decline around the globe. 33 

• Acid rain and air pollution are causing widespread damage to humans, 
crops, and forests. Over 140 million Americans live in regions that fail 
air-quality tests for ozone pollution, according to an American Lung 
Association report. 34 

• About seventy percent of the world's 13.5 billion acres of agricultural 
dry lands — almost thirty percent of the Earth's total land area — is at 
risk of becoming desert. 35 Over a billion people in 135 countries 
depend on this land for food. 36 

• As global pesticide use increased from almost nothing in 1945 to 4-7 
billion tons a year in 1995, at least six people are poisoned by pesti- 
cides each minute somewhere in the world and about 220,000 people 
die of its effects annually. 3 ' 

• At current rates of destruction, the world's remaining rain forests will 
virtually disappear by about 203 1. 38 According to a study published in 
the journal Science, as little as five percent of the Amazon rain forest 
in Brazil may remain as pristine forest by 2020. Researchers fear that 
roads, new homes, logging, and oil exploration will devastate the 1.3 
million-square-mile Amazon forest, which makes up forty percent of 
the Earth's remaining tropical rain forest. 39 

The above examples, and many more, are not meant to imply that there 
has not been any good environmental news. Since 1970, when the first 
Earth Day was held to increase environmental awareness and promote 


action to reduce environmental threats, there has been much new legisla- 
tion, including the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts in the U.S., that has 
led to improvements. For example, in 2000, for the second consecutive year, 
no first-stage ozone pollution alerts were reported in the greater Los 
Angeles area. 40 Many of the 16 million people who live in the region are 
now breathing air that meets all U.S. EPA health standards. Smog alerts 
have decreased seventy-five percent over the past fifteen years, despite 
sharp increases in the number of people and cars in the region. The 
improvements came about because tough air quality regulations led to the 
development of cleaner consumer products, cars, power plants, and facto- 
ries. However, it may be difficult to maintain this progress, since 6.7 million 
more people are expected to live in the Los Angeles area by 2020. 

Causes of Current Ecological Problems 

The root cause of current ecological crises is that the realities of our 
economic and production systems are completely contrary to Torah values: 

• While Judaism stresses that "the earth is the Lord's" and that we are to 
be partners in protecting the environment, many corporations 
consider the earth only in terms of how it can be used to maximize 
profits, with little concern about damaging environmental effects. 

Instead of starting with protection of the earth as a primary value 
and building production and economic systems consistent with this 
value, corporations and utility companies tend to operate with 
maximum profit as their overriding concern. Their shortsighted appli- 
cation of technology is a prime cause of current ecological crises. 41 

• While Judaism mandates bal tashchit, our economy is based on waste, 
on buying, using, and disposing. Advertisers aim to make people feel 
guilty if they don't have the newest gadgets and the latest styles. Every 
national holiday has become an orgy of consumption, with department 
store sales filling mall parking lots with cars. 

The United States has become a throwaway society. We're using 
increasing numbers of plastic containers, although they harm the envi- 
ronment more than glass or metal containers. For convenience, we are 
also using greater amounts of paper products each year. Many poten- 


tially valuable products that could be used for fertilizer are instead 
discarded; these include sewage sludge, garbage, agricultural and forest 
residues, and animal manure. 

The world's richest countries, with twenty percent of the world's popu- 
lation, account for eighty-six percent of all private consumption expendi- 
tures. By contrast, the poorest twenty percent of the world's people spend 
only 1.3 percent. 42 

Due to waste, it has been estimated that the average American's 
impact on the earth's life support systems, in terms of pollution and 
resource consumption per person, is about fifty times that of a person in 
India or another less developed country. 45 Using this figure, the U.S. popu- 
lation has an impact equal to that of fourteen billion Third World people, 
well over twice the population of the world today. 

As an example of our wastefulness, water consumption in the U.S. 
domestic sector (although small compared to agricultural and industrial 
consumption) is sizable; the average North American uses over 170 gallons 
per day, more than seven times the per capita average in the rest of the 
world and nearly triple Europe's level. By comparison, the World Health 
Organization says good health and cleanliness can be obtained with a total 
daily supply of about eight gallons of water per person. 44 

• While Judaism established a Sabbatical year in which the land is 
allowed to lie fallow and recover its fertility and farmers may rest, 
learn, and restore their spiritual values, today, under economic pres- 
sure to constantly produce more, farmers plant single crops (the same 
crops in the same land, with no crop rotation) and use excessive 
amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizer, thereby reducing soil 
fertility and badly polluting air and water. 

Jewish Values Can Help Solve the Environmental Crisis 

Based on biblical values of "The earth is the Lord's" and bal tashchit, Jews 
and others who take religious values seriously must lead efforts to preserve 
the environment. 43 We must work to change the current system, which is 
based primarily on greed and maximization of profits and entices people to 


amass excessive material goods, thus causing great ecological damage. We 
must work for approaches that put primary emphasis on protection of our 
vital ecosystems. 

To reduce potential threats to the U.S. and the world, we must change 
over to simpler, saner lifestyles. Religious institutions, schools, and private 
and governmental organizations must all play a role. We must reapply 
some of our industrial capacity toward recycling, solar energy, and mass 
transit. We must design products for long-term durability and ease of 
repair. We must revise our agricultural and industrial methods so they are 
less wasteful of resources and energy. Perhaps there should be a Presiden- 
tial Commission appointed solely to consider how we can stop being such 
a wasteful society. Changing will not be easy, since our society and 
economy are based on consumption and convenience, using and 
discarding. But it is essential that we make supreme efforts. Nothing less 
than human survival is at stake. 

The proper application of Sabbath values would help end environ- 
mental pollution. The Sabbath teaches that we should not be constantly 
involved in exploiting the world's resources and amassing more and more 
possessions. On that day each week we are to contemplate our dependence 
on God and our responsibility to treat the earth with care and respect. 
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch powerfully expresses this: 

To really observe the Sabbath in our day and age! To cease for a 
whole day from all business, from all work, amidst the frenzied 
hurry-scurry of our age! [And Rabbi Hirsch was writing well over 
a century ago, when commerce and production were far less fren- 
zied!] To close the stock exchanges, the stores, the factories — how 
would it be possible? The pulse of life would stop beating and the 
world perish! The world perish? On the contrary; it would be 

The philosophy of the Sabbatical year provides yet another approach to 
environmental problems. There could be great benefits if land, on a rotating 
basis, could be left fallow, free from the chemicals and fertilizer that pollute 
air and water and reduce soil fertility. If people could spend a (Sabbatical) 


year from their usually harried lives, away from the numbing bustle of the 
marketplace, and from the constant pressure to produce and buy goods, they 
would have the opportunity to use their time for mental and spiritual devel- 
opment. Perhaps they might even have time to study methods of reducing 
pollution and other current problems. 

As co-workers with God, charged with the task of being a light unto 
the nations and accomplishing tikkun olam (restoring and redeeming the 
earth), it is essential that Jews take an active role in struggles to end pollu- 
tion and waste of natural resources. Based on the central Jewish mandate 
to work with God in preserving the earth, Jews must work with others for 
significant changes in our economic and production systems, our values, 
and our lifestyles. 


And I will bring back the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall 
build the wasted cities, and dwell therein; and they shall plant vineyards, 
and drink their wine; and they shall lay out gardens and eat their fruit. 
(Amos 9:14) 

It took the Chosen People 2,000 years to end their exile and return to 
the Promised Land. It has taken them only 52 years to turn the land of 
milk and honey into a country of foaming rivers, carcinogenic water, 
and dying fish. (Times of London) 1 

Israel and wish her to be secure and prosperous. But what about security, 
wealth, and comfort of another kind — the quality of Israel's air, water, and 
ecosystems? What about the physical condition of the eternal holy Land? 
While not discussed frequently enough, these and other environmental 
dangers and degradations have increasingly become serious issues that will 
affect Israel's future. 

The State of Israel has accomplished amazing things in its few 
decades — in agriculture, education, law, social integration, technology, 
education, Torah study, human services, and academics. But simultaneous 
(and sometimes related) neglect and ruthless exploitation of its land, 
water, air, and resources have left Israel ecologically impoverished and 
endangered. Israel faces severe environmental problems. Among the 
contributing factors are some seemingly positive changes that most Israelis 
hope will continue: rapid population growth, widespread industrialization, 



and increased affluence, resulting in a sharp increase in the use of automo- 
biles and other consumer goods. However, the environmental impact of 
these factors has been largely ignored for many years, mostly because of the 
need to make security the priority. 

According to the Statistical Yearbook, 2000, released by the Israeli 
Central Bureau of Statistics, population density in Israel is among the 
highest in the world, with an average of 278 people per square kilometer 
in 1999. 2 The Tel Aviv area is the most crowded, with a density figure of 
6,700 people per square kilometer.' Population is lowest in the South, 
where the population density is just sixteen people per square kilometer. 4 
Jerusalem has the second highest density figures, with 1,130 people per 
square kilometer. 5 The Yearbook also measures growth rates among cities 
with populations of more than a hundred thousand. The fastest-growing 
city in this category is Ashdod, at 6.2 percent (annual increase), followed 
by Rishon Letzion at 4-6 percent. 6 

Water Shortages 

Severe water shortages have become a very grave problem, potentially 
threatening Israel's very existence. Since the mid-1970s, demand for water 
has at times outstripped supply. Israel is a semi-arid country where no rain 
falls for at least six months of the year. While Israel was once known as a 
country that practiced water conservation and pioneered in the develop- 
ment of the drip irrigation method, the country now uses increasing 
amounts of water per person, often for non-essential uses. There has been 
a sharp increase in private pools, Jacuzzis, water parks, and automatic car 

According to a report submitted to the Israeli Water Commission in 
December 2000, Israel's main water sources are expected to continue to 
decline, endangering drinking water quality and raising the specter of an 
insufficient supply.' According to the forecast, Israel will experience a 
water shortage of 90 million cubic meters in 2001, necessitating continued 
pumping of water from the mountain and coastal aquifers. The report indi- 
cated that the water in the two main aquifers already had reached danger- 
ously low levels due to overpumping. The report concluded that none of 


the proposed methods for augmenting Israel's water supplies would solve its 
immediate needs. 8 

An advertisement by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) that appeared 
repeatedly in many publications, headlined "The day the water disap- 
peared in Israel," states: 

The day, the experts project, will come sometime in 2015. Some 
say it will be sooner. 

On that day, there will be no more fresh water in [Israel's] 
cities to drink or to bathe in. No more recycled water for agricul- 
ture. Industry will cease. Wildlife will die. The wells will turn sour, 
the lakes will be empty, the rivers and streams gone. 

And there will be no way to get them back again.... 
Today [Israel] is in the grip of its worst drought in recorded 
history. The devastating effects will be felt for years to come. 9 

A later JNF ad states that Israel's worst drought in a century has resulted in 
precariously low levels at Israel's main fresh water resources. One of these, 
Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), has reached its lowest levels in recorded 
history. This has led to water cuts of seventy percent for farmers and a major 
drop in tourism around the Kinneret, with prospects for painful future 
prohibitions on water use for individuals, cities, and businesses. 

The JNF calls for the following "five-pronged attack": recycling water; 
water conservation; desalination; building a hundred new reservoirs; and 
drawing water from below the Negev Desert, "where there is a great deal of 
fossilized water." 10 Conservation efforts similar to some used in the United 
States could save ten to twenty percent of Israel's water." A major problem 
is persuading the Israeli government to recognize the urgency of the situa- 
tion. Getting a desalination plant built and running takes five to ten 
years — and the water crisis is already here. 12 

Amikim Nachmani, a Bar Ilan University Professor of political science 
who specializes in water issues, states, "What is happening now is a crime." 
When asked who is responsible, he responds, "Everybody. Those who 
haven't made the decisions. Those who made the wrong ones. Those who 
aren't willing to allocate the budgets. Those who didn't scream at the 
gates. Those who didn't listen." 13 


When asked to explain the situation, Meir Ben-Meir, Israel's Water 
Commissioner from 1977 to 1981 and again from 1996 until March, 2000 
replies: "I don't know. How do you explain the fact that mass transporta- 
tion has never been developed in this country, or that the public health 
system is collapsing, or that the traffic bottlenecks in Tel Aviv are not 
being dealt with? It's the same thing." 14 

Haim Gvirtzman, a Hebrew College hydrologist, gives a simple expla- 
nation: "No one cares. Everyone cares about politics, about peace, about 
making money. Who cares about things like health, the environment, or 
water?" 15 Unfortunately, the pattern of shortsightedness also applies to 
many of Israel's other severe environmental problems. 

Water Pollution 

Most of Israel's streams and rivers are seriously polluted, generally much 
more polluted than rivers in North America and Western Europe. 16 Only 
the rivers in the Golan Heights and Ein Gedi, where the number of people 
per unit area is still relatively small, can be considered clean. 17 Israel is ten 
to twenty years behind the United States in caring for its rivers. 18 

The horrible state of Israel's water is indicated by the fact that more 
than a dozen former commandos in an elite Israeli naval unit are filing suit 
against the government for endangering their health by requiring them to 
swim and dive in the horrendously polluted Kishon River as part of their 
training. 19 More than thirty of these naval commandos have been stricken 
with cancer and at least ten have died. 20 

Dr. Elihu Richter, an environmental health expert at Hebrew Univer- 
sity's Hadassah School of Public Health in Jerusalem, says the warning 
signs about the Kishon's toxicity have been clear: 

The damage has been measured over the years in other [non- 
human] species. We've seen gross organ pathology ... and DNA 
breaks in the fish and mollusks of the river. DNA breaks are a sign 
of mutation and are indicative of cancer. 21 

The Kishon River has been especially hard hit because, for over forty years, 
Haifa Bay's chemical industry has discharged its raw industrial wastes 


directly into it. In 1994, tests of the river's waters by the Israeli Union for 
Environmental Defense (IUED, also known as Adam, Teva, v'Din 
[Humans, Nature, and Justice]) showed a startling mixture of pollutants, 
indicating massive non-compliance with pollution laws by major chemical 
factories. Recently IUED won two court cases against major polluters in 
Haifa. Hopefully, this will lead to a decrease in the dumping of industrial 

Most of the rivers in Israel are now so badly polluted that fish can live 
in them for only a few minutes. 22 Already, admits Dalia Itzik, the country's 
Environmental Minister in 2000, forty percent of water piped to Israeli and 
Palestinian homes is "undrinkable." 2 ' Some scientists have already warned 
that carcinogens are turning up in tap water. "The situation is cata- 
strophic," says Itzik. "We simply do not have enough water to meet the 
needs of the population." 24 

The Kishon's toxicity was demonstrated in a test performed by an 
Israeli TV station. A jar of the river's water was mixed with three liters of 
fresh water. Three varieties offish were then put into the jar; every one of 
them died in less than three minutes. 25 According to Greenpeace and the 
University of Exeter, the Kishon River is a poisonous brew of heavy metals 
and other carcinogens. 26 

While the Kishon is probably the most polluted river in Israel, a fall 
into the Yarkon River, which runs through Tel Aviv, can also be fatal. In 
1997, four Australian athletes, who were in Israel to participate in the 
Maccabiah games, died when a bridge over the Yarkon collapsed into the 
toxic soup that runs through what is known as "Israel's Central Park." Two 
died from their injuries, while two more perished after swallowing and 
inhaling the contaminated water. 

According to a study by the Hydrologic Service of Israel's Water 
Commissioner's Office and the Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental 
Science, the pollution of ground water in the Tel Aviv-Givatayim-Ramat 
Can area has reached alarming levels, damaging potable water and 
spreading into underground structures, such as parking lots. 2 ' Environment 
Ministry officials and other experts say that if urgent measures are not 
taken to contain it, the pollution may spread to the coastal aquifer, one of 
Israel's three main water sources. 28 


Air Pollution 

Israel's major cities, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, as well as industrial 
centers like Ashdod, face severe air pollution problems, primarily from 
industrial and automobile emissions. There were three hundred occasions 
of violations of air pollution standards in Tel Aviv alone in 1996. An 
epidemiological study has shown that children in some Tel Aviv neigh- 
borhoods have a greater probability of suffering from respiratory problems, 
including asthma, than their peers elsewhere. 29 Air pollution in Tel Aviv is 
so severe that planners are considering closing the city to traffic on days 
when climatic conditions make the pollution threat particularly severe. 50 

Professor Menachem Luria, Chair of Hebrew University's Environ- 
mental Science Department, has stated that if current trends continue, 
some aspects of the air quality in Jerusalem could be as bad as those in the 
much larger Mexico City by 2010." A recent symposium sponsored by 
IUED was titled, "Don't Take a Breath — Urban Air Pollution." 52 

While many air pollutants have been increasing sharply, there has 
been a decrease in sulfur oxide emissions due to a shift to low-sulfur coal, 
and in lead emissions due to a reduction of the lead content of gasoline. 
However, the continued sharp increase in vehicle density constitutes an 
ever-growing threat to Israel's air quality. 

Solid Waste 

Israel faces a solid waste crisis due to increasing amounts of garbage and the 
country's meager land resources. Many garbage disposal sites are poorly 
designed and managed. Many are also at or near their full capacity. Yet over 
ninety percent of Israel's solid waste is still buried in landfills, left to rot in 
garbage dumps, or burned in open air pits throughout the country. 55 Less 
than five percent of the country's garbage is recycled. In 2000, then- Envi- 
ronmental Minister Dalia Itzik stated that she regarded garbage disposal as 
Israel's number one environmental problem. 54 

Even at the domestic level, there is little or no thought for the 
polluting effects of garbage disposal. Partly due to the lack of recycling 
programs and facilities, householders usually throw plastic, glass, 
aluminum, paper, and general waste into the same bin without a second 


thought. Paper recycling companies charge for collection, and insist on 
collecting white paper only. 

There has been recent legislation requiring a major increase in recy- 
cling, but stricter enforcement is required. Also, many older, inefficient 
landfills are being closed and new, more environmentally sound landfills 
are being opened. 

Open Space 

Another serious environmental problem is the loss of open space and 
recreational areas. A recent nationwide demographic and developmental 
study prepared for the government concluded that some sixty percent of 
the Galilee would be under asphalt in less than twenty-five years, 
compared to only twelve percent today. 35 Municipal and industrial devel- 
opment has encroached on the borders of the Jerusalem Forest, the largest 
planted forest in Israel and one of the last green areas around Jerusalem.' 6 
The loss of open space is not only an aesthetic issue. When open land 
is converted into concrete and asphalt, there is a loss of flood control 
plains, fertile agricultural land, natural habitats for other species, and areas 
for recreation and tourism. Also, because development causes a reduction 
in the amount of water that seeps back into the ground and recharges 
underground water sources, future water supplies are being sacrificed at a 
time when additional water is needed for a growing population. 


Israel's roads have become very congested due to the rapid increase in 
motor vehicles. There was a hundredfold increase in private cars from 
1950 to 1995. At current rates, the number of cars will double every ten 
years." Relative to the population, which has also been increasing sharply, 
the number of private cars grew from six per thousand inhabitants in 1951 
to 198 per thousand in 1995, and this ratio doubles every twenty years. 38 
This is occurring even though Israel has a very extensive bus system. 

The very rapid increase in cars and other motor vehicles has resulted 
in major pollution and congestion problems and loss of open space. 
Because there has been inadequate planning of alternate forms of trans- 
portation, these problems are expected to worsen. Many studies have 


shown that building more roads is, at best, only a temporary solution, 
because traffic soon expands to again fill the roads. Only a comprehensive 
redesign of Israel's transportation system, with a far greater emphasis on 
public and non-motorized transportation, can help relieve current pollu- 
tion and congestion problems. 39 

The Trans-Israel Highway 

Many environmental problems in Israel today will be much exacerbated by 
the construction over the next few years of the Trans-Israel Highway, a six- 
lane major artery whose planned route traverses the country north to 
south, from the Lebanon border to the Negev desert. The initial section of 
the road, in the center of the country, is scheduled to be completed in 
2002; additional sections are to open in 2004 or later. The highway's 
critics, reports the Jerusalem Post, "including environmentalists, public 
transport advocates, and traffic safety experts, view Israel's first super- 
highway as the most disastrous public works project ever conceived in the 
nation's history." 40 Among the reasons such groups as the Israel Union for 
Environmental Defense, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, 
and the Committee for Public Transportation have been fighting against 
the highway are: 

• It will make it more difficult to establish an integrated, balanced 
national transportation system: one which would place greater 
emphasis on rail and other forms of public transportation. 

• Israel already has a very high number of private automobiles per square 
kilometer, and the highway will make this situation even worse by 
encouraging increased use of cars instead of other, more sustainable 
and less destructive means of transportation. 

• It will significantly aggravate the already severe air pollution around 
major cities. 

• The highway will permanently contaminate the Mountain Aquifer, 
which supplies water to one-third of the country, with oil, gas, and 
other carcinogenic runoffs. 

• The death rate from automobile accidents, already very high, will be 
increased by the high speed limit on the highway, by the tendency of 


drivers to exceed the speed limit on this wide-open road, and by the 
carryover of that habit of speeding onto other, narrower roads. 

• Since the Israeli government budget and its taxpayers are legally 
committed to paying compensation to the consortium of corporations 
that is building the road for any shortfall in income from the planned 
tolls, citizens and the government could be on the hook for hundreds 
of millions of dollars each year. 

• Israel's balance of payments deficit will worsen as increased reliance on 
automobiles leads to more outlays for buying cars (all of which are 
imported), spare parts, and fuel. 

• There will be an increase in the suburbanization of the country, 
leading to urban deterioration in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other cities. 
In the long run (as other countries have learned), the highway will 
draw more cars and end up producing greater traffic jams. 

• Noise pollution and visual blight on the countryside will increase. 

• The highway will aggravate social divisions in Israel: it will benefit 
mostly those who can afford autos and tolls, while geographically 
isolating the poor and dumping financial costs and increased pollution 
onto them. Also, since the planned route traverses Arab villages and 
cuts into their farmland, it will worsen the legitimate grievances of 
Israel's Arab citizens. 

• Transportation Minister Ephraim Sneh, a highway supporter, 
acknowledges that it will "be a blight on Israel's few remaining open 
spaces." 41 In the central region of the country, where land reserves are 
few and the population density is high, the highway will pave over 
much of the remaining green space. This is especially true because the 
plan includes numerous access roads and interchanges, which will be 
flanked by strip malls and other construction. The anticipated profits 
from these businesses, and the vested interest of those who expect to 
reap them, are one of the reasons it has been so difficult to prevent this 
ecological disaster from happening. 

Is it still possible to block this insane project? Perhaps some parts of it. 
At least fifty members of Knesset, from right to left, who want to preserve 


the Land for future generations, have called for a moratorium on construc- 
tion until further study can be done. But the financial incentives for those 
who anticipate benefiting, as well as misguided ideas about progress and 
easier travel, may impose this legacy of pavement and pollution onto the 
face of Israel for many years to come. 

In summary, Israel is on the edge of an environmental catastrophe that 
may not only destroy the livelihoods of thousands of its people, but also 
threaten the viability of the state. 

Israeli Responses to the Environmental Crisis 

There have been indications of greatly expanded Israeli concern about the 
environment. In December 1988, a breakthrough occurred when the 
Ministry of the Environment was established to replace the former Envi- 
ronmental Protection Service, and to assume many additional responsibil- 
ities. Since 1988, the scope of the ministry's jurisdiction has been 
expanded, and it has devoted energy and expertise to environmental 

Israel has been taking steps to give greater priority to its environmental 
problems. There was a "Year of the Environment" in 5754 (September 
1993-August 1994), with activities devoted to increasing the public's 
environmental awareness. Among the many nationwide projects were a 
bottle disposal campaign, the institution of eco-labeling on environmen- 
tally-friendly products, and various clean-up and recycling campaigns. The 
government also sponsored an information campaign involving all govern- 
ment ministries, every municipality, numerous public organizations, the 
private sector, and the entire educational system in a unique and unprece- 
dented environmental partnership. The Israeli Ministry of Education 
adopted the environment as the central theme for the curriculum during 
that year. 

Many new laws have been passed to reduce pollution and other envi- 
ronmental problems. However, a great deal more needs to be done, and 
existing laws must be enforced more strictly. 

The IUED, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), the 
Committee for Public Transportation, Green Trend, the A. J. Heschel 
Center, Neot Kedumim, and other Israeli environmental groups are 


increasing their efforts to raise the public's environmental awareness 
through hikes, lectures, and other educational activities. The IUED seeks 
to reduce pollution by promoting new legislation and taking polluters to 
court. (For further information about Israeli environmental groups and 
publications, see Appendix C and Appendix E.) 

As discussed in the previous chapter, Jewish teachings carry a powerful 
ecological message. It is essential that these teachings be applied now to 
reduce the many threats to Israel's environment and, indeed, its survival. 


Is not this the fast that 1 have chosen? To loose the chains of wickedness , 

to undo the bonds of oppression, and to let the crushed go free Is it 

not to share your bread with the hungry? (Isaiah 58:6-7) 

Jews fast and pray for forgiveness, a favorable judgment, and a good 
year. On this same day, they are told, through the words of the prophet 
Isaiah, that fasting, confession of sins, and prayers are not sufficient; people 
must also work to end oppression and provide food for the needy. 

Helping the hungry is fundamental in Judaism. The Talmud states, 
"Providing charity for poor and hungry people is as important as all the 
other commandments of the Torah combined." 1 The Midrash teaches: 

God says to Israel, "My children, whenever you give sustenance to 
the poor, I impute it to you as though you gave sustenance to Me...." 
Does then God eat and drink? No, but whenever you give food to 
the poor, God accounts it to you as if you gave food to Him. 2 

On Passover we are reminded not to forget the poor. Besides providing 
ma'ot chittim (funds for purchasing matzah and other holiday necessities) 
for the needy before Passover, we reach out to them during the Seder meal: 

This is the bread of affliction, which our ancestors ate in the land 
of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in 
need come and celebrate the Passover.' 



We are even admonished to feed our enemies if they are in need: 

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat. 

If your enemy is thirsty, give him water to drink. (Proverbs 25:21) 

This is consistent with the rabbinic teaching that the greatest hero is a 
person who converts an enemy into a friend. 4 

World Hunger Today 

The magnitude of world hunger is staggering: more than a billion people, 
over one out of six people in the world, are chronically hungry. 5 The Food 
and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates that twenty-one percent 
of India's population is chronically undernourished, but the situation may 
be far worse. Recent on-the-ground surveys indicate that forty-nine 
percent of adults and fifty-three percent of children in India are under- 
weight, which is a proxy measurement for hunger. 6 Hunger is found in the 
wealthier countries as well. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated 
that in 1998, some ten percent of U.S. households were hungry, on the 
edge of being hungry, or threatened by hunger. 7 

Children are particularly victimized by malnutrition. Throughout the 
world, over twelve million children under the age of five die every year 
—about 34,000 each day — from diseases brought on or complicated by 
malnutrition. 8 Each year, almost eight million children die before their first 
birthday, largely due to malnutrition. 9 Malnourishment also causes listless- 
ness and reduced capacity for learning and work, thus perpetuating the 
legacy of poverty. 

Jeremy Rifkin summarizes the anomaly of rich people dieting and poor 
people starving: 

While millions of Americans anguish over excess pounds, 
spending time, money, and emotional energy on slimming down, 
children in other lands are wasting away, their physical growth 
irreversibly stunted, their bodies racked by parasitic and oppor- 
tunistic diseases, their brain growth diminished by lack of nutri- 
ents in their meager diets. 1 



Extensive hunger and malnutrition in so many parts of the world make 
rebellion and violence more likely. Professor Georg Borgstrom, interna- 
tional expert on food science, fears that "the rich world is on a direct colli- 
sion course with the poor of the world.... We cannot survive behind our 
Maginot line of missiles and bombs." 11 Unless the problem of global hunger 
is fully addressed soon, the outlook for global stability is very poor. 
Professor Robert Heilbroner, a noted economist, predicted that, in times of 
severe famine, countries like India would be sorely tempted to try nuclear 
blackmail. 12 

Prospects for reducing hunger are uncertain. In his book, Tough 
Choices — Facing the Challenge of Food Scarcity, 13 Lester R. Brown, former 
Director of the Worldwatch Institute, states that numerous factors, 
including rapidly increasing world population and affluence, environ- 
mental strains, climate changes, and significant decreases in clean water, 
arable land, fish catches, and land productivity, all threaten the world's food 
security. Worldwatch believes that providing enough food for the world's 
rapidly increasing population will be a critical issue for many decades. 

Misconceptions About the Causes of World Hunger 

There are many misconceptions about the causes of global hunger. Hunger 
is not caused primarily by overpopulation, bad weather, lack of technology, 
or the ignorance of people in poor countries. 14 These can all worsen the 
problem, but they do not cause it. 

Population has been growing explosively in recent years. While it took 
until 1830 for the world's population to reach one billion people, in 1999 
the population reached six billion and was projected to double in the next 
half century. 15 Yet population, while a very serious concern that must be 
addressed, is not a root cause of world hunger. Africa is relatively sparsely 
populated but still has much hunger. Japan and many European countries, 
such as Belgium and Holland, are very densely populated but have rela- 
tively few hungry people. 

Rather than being a cause of hunger, rapid population growth is more 
often a result of hunger. When infant mortality is high, due to malnutri- 
tion and disease, couples will have many children so that some will survive. 
In societies where there are no unemployment insurance or pension 


programs, children, especially males, provide the only assurance that there 
will be help when the parents become disabled or too old to work. Rapid 
population growth and hunger are common in societies where land owner- 
ship, jobs, education, health care, and old age security are beyond the 
reach of most people. 16 In these very poor, hungry countries, the cost of 
raising a child is very low, but the economic value of the child providing 
financial assistance to the family, especially when the parents become too 
old to work, is great. Given these conditions, the answer to the population 
problem is not only better family planning techniques, but also an 
improvement of the people's economic and social conditions. Third World 
societies that have experienced rapid reductions of population growth 
rates — China, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Cuba and the Indian state of Kerala — 
clearly demonstrate that the lives of the poor, especially poor women, must 
improve before they will choose to have fewer children. 17 

Hunger is not due to insufficient food production. Research at the 
Institute for Food and Development in California has shown that the 
world produces enough grain alone to provide every person with 3,500 
calories a day, enough to make most people gain weight. 18 (Over one-third 
of the world's grain is currently fed to animals destined for slaughter.) The 
3,500-calorie estimate does not even include the fruits, vegetables, nuts, 
root crops, dairy products, and non-grain-fed meat that are produced 
around the world. If all foods are considered, the world provides an average 
of at least 4.3 pounds per person per day. 19 The problem is that many people 
lack the income to buy the available food. Even most "hungry countries" 
currently have sufficient food for all their people. Many are net exporters 
of food and other agricultural products. 20 

Hunger is also not primarily a result of bad weather. No matter how 
bad the weather, the wealthy in any country always manage to eat well. In 
a book published in 1928, it was reported that China had a famine in some 
provinces every year for over a thousand years. 21 Today China has an agri- 
cultural system that is much less vulnerable to weather changes. They have 
utilized their massive labor power to sink hundreds of wells, build reser- 
voirs, and dam rivers to insure an adequate supply of water. 

In the autumn of 1974, Bangladesh had one of the worse famines of 
modern times, with a hundred thousand lives lost. Though the govern- 


ment claimed that it was due to harvest-destroying floods, workers on the 
scene observed that there was adequate food, but that wealthy farmers 
were hoarding rice to maintain high prices. 22 

It is relatively easy to blame nature, but in fact food is readily available 
for people who can afford it — only the poorest face starvation during hard 
times. However, human-made forces are making people increasingly 
vulnerable to nature's vagaries. 23 Millions live on the brink of disaster in 
Africa, south Asia, and elsewhere, because they are inadequately paid for 
their labor, trapped in debt, or deprived of land by a powerful few. Natural 
events rarely explain deaths by starvation; they are generally the final push 
over the brink. Famine is primarily caused by social, political, and 
economic conditions, not nature. 

What about lack of technology as a cause of global hunger? In many 
cases, new technology has made the situation worse, because it has not 
been combined with necessary social and economic changes. 

New "miracle" seeds (the "Green Revolution") were proposed as an 
answer to inadequate food production. But these seeds require good land, 
proper irrigation, and heavy doses of fertilizer and pesticides. Only wealthy 
farmers with large farms can afford these. Also, increased production of 
grain lowers the price of food and drives many small farmers off the land 
when they can't compete. 

Mechanization, so widely used on American farms, can also have 
negative effects. It forces many farm workers off the land and into increas- 
ingly crowded cities, seeking employment which often is not available. 

The additional food produced by improved technology seldom goes to 
hungry people. It generally goes to wealthier people for luxury food prod- 
ucts, animal feed, or as exports to more affluent countries. 

Thanks to the technological advances of the Green Revolution, 
millions of tons of additional grain are being harvested annually. But 
focusing narrowly on increased production cannot reduce hunger, because 
it fails to alter the tightly concentrated distribution of economic power that 
determines who can buy the additional food. In several countries with the 
biggest Green Revolution successes — India, Mexico, and the Philippines — 
grain production and, in some cases, exports, have climbed, while hunger 
persists and the long-term productive capacity of the soil is degraded. 24 


The key question with regard to technology is: who stands to gain? If 
technology is used to benefit small local elites while driving many people 
off farms, it worsens the hunger situation. If it is used cooperatively, in 
conjunction with a country's vast labor power and local planning and 
initiative, so that individual peasants benefit directly from their added 
productivity, it can be of great value. 

Is the ignorance of small farmers in poor countries a major cause of 
widespread hunger? On the contrary, small peasant farmers get much out 
of their land, working their very limited resources to the fullest, because it 
is all they have for survival. The problems of the poor are not due to back- 
wardness. They just have very little to work with, since ownership of land 
and wealth is concentrated in very few hands. 

Causes of World Hunger 

What, then, are the root causes of global hunger? A significant part of the 
answer lies in a system of production and distribution that is rooted in 
inequality, injustice, and greed, and is at sharp variance with Torah 
values. 25 In a policy statement issued on October 11, 1975, the National 
Council of Churches (NCC) stated that the fundamental cause of world 
hunger was "the sinful behavior of humankind, including the denial of 
human solidarity; greed; and selfishness with which neighbor exploits 
neighbor." The NCC further noted: "Institutionalized injustice explains 
more than all other factors combined why half a billion persons [as of 2000, 
it is more than a billion people] suffer from chronic hunger in a world 
which could have enough food to go around." 

There is great poverty and hunger in less developed countries because 
the social and economic inequalities prevalent in these countries prevent 
people from making an adequate living. Land and wealth are concentrated 
among a few, and with land and wealth goes power to control the destiny 
of the masses. Control of land, and of the things needed to make the land 
produce — seeds, tools, machinery, fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation 
systems — are in relatively few hands. 

According to World Hunger: Twelve Myths by Frances Moore Lappe 
and others (see Bibliography), powerful misconceptions block under- 
standing of the true causes of hunger and thus prevent effective action. 


"The true source of world hunger is not scarcity but policy; not 
inevitability but politics," according to Dr. Peter Rosset, Executive 
Director of Food First and co-author of World Hunger. "The real culprits are 
economies that fail to offer everyone opportunities and societies that place 
economic efficiency over compassion." 26 

Colonialism changed patterns of food production in many countries. 
The nineteenth-century English political economist John Stuart Mill 
stated that colonies should not be thought of as countries at all, but as 
"agricultural establishments" whose sole purpose was to supply the "large 
community to which they belong." 27 Using raw force and high taxes, Euro- 
peans changed the diversified agriculture of their colonies to single cash 
crops, often at the exclusion of staple foods. The best land was taken over 
to produce tea, coffee, bananas, and other crops that could be exported to 
enrich foreigners and local elites, at the expense of the native population. 
This process sowed the seeds of famine. 

While the colonial period is over, its legacy remains in the form of 
neocolonialism. Less developed countries must still produce cash crops in 
order to meet their debts and to obtain badly needed money. 28 As a result, 
these countries are on a treadmill. They must work harder and harder just 
to maintain their inadequate economic conditions. They are prevented 
from developing their own resources for their own use, and conditions of 
trade are against them. 

Another factor that greatly worsens the global food situation is the 
wastefulness of affluent countries, such as the United States. The Amer- 
ican diet is extremely wasteful. As discussed in more detail in Chapter 12, 
we consume about five times as much grain per person (mostly by eating 
meat from grain-fed animals) as the average person in poorer countries. It 
takes up to sixteen pounds of grain to produce one pound of edible beef in 
a feedlot. Half of U.S. farm acreage is used to produce feed crops for live- 
stock. Animal-centered diets require up to twenty-one times the land area 
per person that would be required for a vegan diet. Modern intensive live- 
stock agriculture also requires tremendous amounts of chemical fertilizer 
and pesticides, irrigation water, and fuel, commodities which are becoming 
very scarce worldwide. 


In view of these negative effects of animal-based agriculture, it is scan- 
dalous that U.S. meat conglomerates, aided by the World Bank and other 
international financial institutions, are promoting food policies and trade 
agreements that would double world production and consumption of meat 
and other animal food products in the next twenty years. 29 Most of this 
expansion would take place in less developed nations, through massive 
factory farming operations similar to these currently being used in the 
developed world. This would have very severe consequences for the poor 
countries and worldwide: more hunger, more poverty, more pollution, 
more animal suffering, less self-determination for the people in low- 
income nations, and less water for everyone. To help combat the expan- 
sion of western intensive animal-based agriculture into developing 
nations, the Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM) has launched a 
"Global Hunger Alliance," which aims to convince the Food and Agricul- 
tural Organization (FAO) and the World Food Conference in Rome to 
promote plant-based diets as a solution to the scandal of widespread world 
hunger.' They are circulating a petition that they hope will help increase 
pressure on food-related groups and conference delegates. 

In summary, millions of people are hungry today, not because of insuf- 
ficient agricultural capacity, but because of unjust social systems and 
wasteful methods of food production, including the feeding of tremendous 
amounts of grain to animals to fatten them for slaughter and consumption 
by meat-eating societies. 

Jewish Responses to Hunger 

1. Involvement 

Judaism teaches involvement and concern with the plight of fellow human 
beings. Every life is sacred, and we are obligated to do what we can to help 
others. The Torah states, "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your 
neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16). 

Jews rightfully condemn the silence of the world when six million Jews 
and millions of other people were murdered by the Nazis. Can we be silent 
when millions die agonizing deaths because of lack of food? Can we acqui- 
esce to the apathy of the world toward the fate of starving people? 


Elie Wiesel has pointed out that there can be no analogies to the 
Holocaust, but that it can be used as a reference. In that context, we can 
consider the almost eight million infants who die each year due to malnu- 
trition and the six million Jews who were slaughtered by the Nazis. True, 
victims of hunger are not being singled out because of their religion, race, 
or nationality, but, as did Holocaust victims, they die while the world goes 
about its business, grumbling about personal inconveniences, indifferent 
to the plight of the starving people. Since the Mishnah teaches that if one 
saves a single human life, it is as if one has saved an entire world {Sanhedrin 
4:5), what then if one fails to save a single life? Or twenty million? 

The Hebrew prophets berate those who are content and comfortable 
while others are in great distress: 

Tremble you women, who are at ease, 

Shudder you complacent ones; 

Strip and make yourselves bare, 

Gird sackcloth upon your loins. (Isaiah 32:11) 

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion... 

Woe to those who lie upon beds of ivory 

And stretch themselves upon their couches... 

Who drink wine from bowls 

And anoint themselves with the finest oils 

But are not grieved at the ruin of Joseph. (Amos 6:1,4,6) 

Like other peoples, Jews have frequently experienced hunger. Because of 
famines, Abraham was forced to go to Egypt (Genesis 12:10), Isaac went 
to the land of Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar (Genesis 26:1), 
the children of Jacob went to Egypt to buy grain (Genesis 42:1—3), and 
Naomi and her family fled Israel and went to Moab (Ruth 1:1—2). There 
were also famines in the reigns of King David (2 Samuel 21:1) and King 
Ahab (1 Kings 18:1-2). 

Jews know the agony of great hunger. The Prophet Jeremiah, referring 
to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, proclaims "Happier were the 


victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who pined away, stricken 
by want of the yield of the field" (Lamentations 4:9). 

Based on Jewish values and Jewish history, we must empathize with the 
starving millions of the world. We must be involved by speaking out and 
working in support of more just, environmentally sustainable agricultural 
policies. Some traditional Jewish ways to help needy people are to pursue 
justice, practice charity, show compassion, share resources, and simplify 

2. Sharing 

Feeling compassion for the poor and hungry is not enough. A fundamental 
Jewish principle is that those who have much should share with others 
who are less fortunate. The Talmudic sage Hillel stresses that we must not 
be concerned only with our own welfare: "If I am not for myself, who will 
be for me? But if I am for myself alone, what am I?" 31 Indeed, the Haggadah 
read at Passover Seders exhorts us to welcome and share with all who are 
hungry and in need. The act of prolonging one's meal, on the chance that 
a poor person may come so that one may give him or her food, is so meri- 
torious that the table of the person who does this is compared to the altar 
of the ancient Temple. 32 

Judaism's great emphasis on sharing is also illustrated in the following 
Chassidic tale: 

The story is told of a great rabbi who was given the privilege of 
seeing the realms of Heaven and Hell before his death. He was 
taken first to Hell, where he was confronted with a huge banquet 
room in the middle of which was a large elegant table covered with 
a magnificent tablecloth and the finest china, silver, and crystal. 
The table was covered from one end to the other with the most 
delicious foods that the eyes have ever seen or the mouth tasted. 
And all around the table, people were sitting looking at the food... 
and wailing. 

It was such a wail that the rabbi had never heard such a sad 
sound in his entire life and he asked, "With a luxurious table and 
the most delicious food, why do these people wail so bitterly?" As 


he entered the room, he saw the reason for their distress. For 
although each was confronted with this incredible sight before 
him, no one was able to eat the food. Each person's arms were 
splinted so that the elbows could not bend. They could touch the 
food but could not eat it. The anguish this caused was the reason 
for the great wail and despair that the rabbi saw and heard. 

He was next shown Heaven, and to his surprise he observed 
the identical scene witnessed in Hell: The large banquet room, 
elegant table, lavish settings, and sumptuous foods. And, in addi- 
tion, once again everyone's arms were splinted so the elbows could 
not bend. Here, however, there was no wailing, but rather joy 
greater than he had ever experienced in his life. For whereas here 
too the people could not put the food into their own mouths, each 
picked up the food and fed it to another. They were thus able to 
enjoy not only the beautiful scene, the wonderful smells, and the 
delicious foods, but also the joy of sharing and helping one 

Rabbi Jay Marcus, former longtime spiritual leader of the Young Israel of 
Staten Island, comments on the fact that karpas (eating of greens) and 
yahatz (breaking of the middle matzah for later use as the dessert) are next 
to each other in the order of the Passover Seder service. 34 He suggests that 
those who can live on simple things like greens (vegetables, etc.) will more 
readily divide their possessions and share with others. 

To help share God's abundant harvests with the poor, the Torah 
instructed farmers: 

1 ) A corner of the field always had to be left unharvested; it was the 
property of the poor (Pe'ah). (Leviticus 19; 9-10) 

2) If less than three ears of corn were dropped during the harvest, they 
were not to be gleaned, but were to be left for the poor {Leket). (Leviticus 
19; 9-10) 

3) A sheaf forgotten by the farmer could not be retrieved but had to be 
left for the poor (Shik'khah). (Deuteronomy 24: 19-21) 


4) Every third year a part of the tithe of the harvest had to be set aside 
for the poor (Ma'aser Ani). 

5) On the eve of every holy day, mat'not yad, a special gift to the poor, 
had to be put aside. 

As discussed in Chapter 12, vegetarianism is consistent with this 
Jewish concept of sharing. As Jay Dinshah, late long-time President of the 
American Vegan Society, stated: 

After all, vegetarianism is, more than anything else, the very 
essence and the very expression of altruistic SHARING ... the 
sharing of the One Life ... the sharing of the natural resources of 
the Earth ... the sharing of love, kindness, compassion, and beauty 
in this life.' 5 

The Los Angeles-based Jewish organization Mazon attempts to help Jews 
share their joyous events with hungry people. It urges people to contribute 
three percent of the money spent for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other 
celebrations to the group, which funnels the money to organizations 
working to reduce hunger. For contact information, see Appendix C. 

3. Simplifying Lifestyles 

Because millions lack sufficient food, it is imperative that those of us who 
have so much simplify our lives so that we can share more with others. A 
group of major religious leaders, including representatives of several 
branches of Judaism in the United States and Israel, met in Bellagio, Italy, 
in May 1975 to consider "The Energy/Food Crisis: A Challenge to Peace, 
a Call to Faith." They agreed on a statement that included this assertion: 

The deepest and strongest expression of any religion is the "styles 
of life" that characterizes its believers. It is urgent that religious 
communities and individuals scrutinize their lifestyle and turn 
from habits of waste, overconsumption, and thoughtless accept- 
ance of the standards propagated by advertisements and social 


The cry from millions for food brought us together from many 
faiths. God — Reality itself — calls us to respond to the cry for food. 
And we hear it as a cry not only for aid but also for justice.' 6 

Simpler lifestyles, including less wasteful diets, can be an important first 
step toward justice for the hungry of the world. Simpler diets do not mean 
a lack of joy or a lack of fellowship. As Proverbs 15:17 states, "Better a 
dinner of herbs where love is present than a stalled ox with hatred." 

During the Middle Ages, local Jewish councils often established 
"sumptuary laws" for the community. People were forbidden to spend more 
than a specified amount of money for weddings and other occasions. These 
laws were designed so that the poor should not be embarrassed for being 
unable to match the expenditures of the wealthy and so that a financial 
strain was not placed on the community as a whole. Perhaps the spirit of 
such laws should be invoked today. Can we continue to consume flesh that 
requires so much grain to be fed to animals at a time when millions of 
people are starving? Is it not now time for officiating rabbis to specify 
guidelines to reduce waste and ostentation at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and 
other occasions? (Several Chassidic Rebbes have established limits on 
expenses and on the number of guests at weddings and other religious cele- 
brations within their communities.) 

It is a fundamental Jewish belief that God provides enough for every 
person's needs. In our daily prayers, it is said: "He opens His hand and 
provided sustenance to all living things" (Psalms 145:16). Jews are 
mandated to give thanks to God for providing enough food for everyone. 
In the Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals), we praise God "Who feeds the 
entire world with goodness, grace, loving kindness and compassion." The 
blessing is, of course, correct. God has provided enough for all. The boun- 
ties of nature, fairly distributed and properly consumed, would sustain all 

The means are available for each person to have an adequate diet. 
Every nation could be self-sufficient in producing food. The conditions of 
inequality and injustice that are causing widespread hunger are outrageous 
and must be changed. As the Indian independence leader Mahatma 
Gandhi stated: "There is enough for the world's need, but not for its greed." 


With so much hunger, poverty, and injustice in the world, explicit 
Jewish mandates to feed the hungry, help the poor, share resources, prac- 
tice charity, show compassion, and pursue justice, along with the remem- 
brance of the suffering and deprivation experienced throughout Jewish 
history, should provide the impetus for Jews to be in the forefront of efforts 
to create food production and distribution systems that will sharply reduce 
world hunger. 


"Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit," says the Lord of Hosts. 
(Zechariah 4:6) 

peace, and the tradition commands that people actively pursue peace. 
The Midrash states that there are many commandments that require a 
certain time and place for their performance, but with regard to the 
mandate to "seek peace and pursue it" (Psalms 34:15), we are to seek it in 
our own place and pursue it everywhere else. 1 The famous Talmudic sage 
Hillel states that we should "be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and 
pursuing peace." 2 Concerning the special duty of Jews to work for peace, 
the sages comment: "The Holy one, blessed be He, said: 'The whole Torah 
is peace. And to whom do I give it? To the nation which loves peace!' "~* 
The Midrash employs lavish words in praise of peace: 

Great is peace, for God's name is peace. ...Great is peace, for it 
encompasses all blessings. ...Great is peace, for even in times of 
war, peace must be sought. ...Great is peace, for when the Messiah 
comes, he will commence with peace, as it is said, "How beautiful 
upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings, 
who announces peace" (Isaiah. 52:7). 4 

Great is peace, for with peace the Holy One, Blessed be He, will 
announce the Redemption of Israel, and with peace He will 
console Jerusalem.' 



See how beloved is peace; when the Holy One, Blessed be He, 
wished to bless Israel, He could not find a vessel great enough to 
contain their blessings, except for peace. 6 

The whole Torah was given for the sake of peace, and it is said, "all 
her paths are peace" (Proverbs 3:17).' 

It is significant that many of the most important Jewish prayers 
conclude with a supplication for peace. These include the Amidah (silent 
prayer — also known as the Shmoneh Esrei — which is recited three times 
daily), the Kaddish, the Grace after Meals, and the Priestly Blessing. 

In spite of Judaism's adamant opposition to idolatry, peace is so impor- 
tant that the rabbis taught: 

Great is peace, for even if the Jews were to practice idolatry, and 
peace prevailed among them at the same time, God would say, "I 
cannot punish them because peace prevails among them." 8 

Judaism emphasizes the pursuit of justice and harmonious relations 
between nations to reduce violence and the prospects of war. The Prophet 
Isaiah proclaims: 

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; And the effect of 
righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. (Isaiah 32:17) 

Yet there are many sections in the Hebrew Scriptures which justify war 
under certain conditions and discuss rules for combat. War was universally 
accepted (and still is) as inevitable and therefore a legitimate foreign 
policy instrument. God commanded the Israelites to conquer the land of 
Canaan through warfare and to destroy or evict the inhabitants. After the 
Exodus from Egypt, God is joyfully praised as a "Man of War" (Exodus 
15:3). The Israelites are told: "For the Lord, your God, is He Who goes 
with you. To fight against your enemies, to save you" (Deuteronomy 20:4). 
The books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings report many armed battles, some 
involving widespread destruction. 


However, the general tone of Jewish tradition shudders at war and its 
instruments. God is often pictured as ultimately despising war and 
intending its elimination: "And I will break the bow and the sword and the 
battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely" (Hosea 2:20). 
"He [God] makes wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaks the 
bow, and cuts the spear in sunder; He burns the chariot in the fire" (Psalms 

The Talmudic sages forbade the use of instruments of war for orna- 
mentation or anything connected with sacred services. Concerning the 
Sabbath laws, the Mishnah states: 

[On the Sabbath] a man may not go out with a sword, a bow, a 
shield, a club, or a spear; and if he goes out [with such as these] he 
is liable to a sin offering. Rabbi Eliezer says, "They are merely deco- 
rations." But the sages say, "They are nothing but shameful." 9 

The Talmud regards the sword as the opposite of the Torah: "If the sword 
is here, there cannot be the book; if the book is here, there cannot be the 
sword." 10 To the Talmud, the true hero is not the person with many 

One who conquers his impulses, it is as if he conquered a city of 
heroes. ...For the true heroes are the masters of Torah, as it is said, 
"mighty in power are those who obey God's Word." 11 

The Talmudic sages teach: "Who is mighty? One who controls his 
passions," 12 and it is said: "Better is the long-suffering than the mighty..." 
(Proverbs 16:32). 

The Torah forbids the use of metal tools in the construction of the 
Holy Altar. "And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it 
of hewn stones; for if you lift up your sword upon it, you have profaned it" 
(Exodus 20:22). Consistent with their abhorrence of war, the sages 
comment on this verse as follows: 


Iron shortens life, while the altar prolongs it. The sword, or 
weapons of iron, is the symbol of strife, while the altar is the 
symbol of reconciliation and peace between God and man, and 
between man and his fellow. 13 

Because of his many violent battles, King David was denied the opportu- 
nity to build the Temple. He was told: 

You have shed blood abundantly, and you have made great wars. 
You shall not build a house unto My name, because you have shed 
much blood upon the earth in My sight. Behold, a son shall be 
born to you who shall be a man of peace; and I will give him rest 
from all his enemies round about, for his name shall be Solomon 
(peaceful), and I shall give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He 
shall build a house for My name. 14 

Despite the great yearning throughout the Jewish tradition for peace, Jews 
have had to fight wars throughout history, up to our own day. The prophets 
realized the horrible results of battle. The following words of Jeremiah, 
written over two thousand years ago concerning the conquest and 
despoiling of Jerusalem, could have been written about the aftermath of a 
modern war: 

My innards, my innards! I writhe in pain! 

The chambers of my heart! 

My heart moans within me! 

I cannot hold my peace! 

Because you have heard, O my soul, 

the sound of the horn, 

The alarm of war. 

Destruction follows upon destruction; 

For the whole land is spoiled.... 

I beheld the earth, 

And, lo, it was waste and void; 


And the heavens, and they had no light. 

I beheld the mountains, and lo, they trembled. 

And all the hills moved to and fro. 

I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, 

And all birds of the heavens were fled. 

I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful field was a wilderness, 

And all the cities thereof were broken down 

At the presence of the Lord, 

And before His fierce anger 

For thus says the Lord: 

"The whole land shall be desolate." (Jeremiah 4:19—27) 

The Jewish tradition does not mandate pacifism, or peace at any price, 
although some Jews have become pacifists based on Jewish values. The 
Israelites frequently went forth to battle, and not always in defensive wars. 
But they always held to the ideal of universal peace and yearned for the day 
when there would be no more bloodshed or violence, and when the instru- 
ments of war would be converted into tools of production: 

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, 

And their spears into pruning hooks; 

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, 

Neither shall they learn war any more. 

But they shall sit every man under his vine and 

under his fig tree; 

And none shall make them afraid; 

For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. 

(Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3-4) 

However, throughout most of history, the world's people have too often 
beaten their plowshares into swords and their pruning hooks into spears. 

Causes of War 

Judaism teaches that violence and war result directly from injustice: 


The sword comes into the world because of justice delayed, 
because of justice perverted, and because of those who render 
wrong decisions. 15 

The Hebrew word for war, milchama, is derived from the word locham, which 
means "to feed" as well as "to wage war." The Hebrew word for bread, 
lechem, comes from the same root. This has led the Sages to point out that 
lack of bread and the search for sufficient food make people more inclined 
to wage war. 16 Since the seeds of war are often found in the inability of a 
nation to provide adequate food for its people, failing to help reduce hunger 
across the world and feeding tremendous amounts of grains to animals 
destined for slaughter instead of feeding the grains directly to starving 
people can create conditions leading to war. 

Former Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon has stated: 

Hunger and famine will do more to destabilize this world; it's more 
explosive than all atomic weaponry possessed by the big powers. 
Desperate people do desperate things. ...Nuclear fission is now in 
the hands of even the developing countries in many of which 
hunger and famine are most serious. 17 

Richard J. Barnet, a director of the Washington-based Institute for Policy 
Studies and author of The Lean Years, an analysis of resource scarcities, 
believes that the anger and despair of hungry people can lead to violence 
and spreading conflicts. 18 Just as scarcity of food can lead to war, so can 
scarcity of sources of energy. A prime current threat to peace is the 
perceived need for affluent countries to obtain sufficient oil to keep their 
economies running smoothly. 

The Persian Gulf area, where much of the world's oil is produced, has 
been the site of much instability and competition, which resulted in the 

Reducing Prospects for War 

Judaism emphasizes that justice and harmonious relations among nations 
reduce violence and prospects for war. The prophet Isaiah states: "And the 
work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quiet- 


ness and confidence forever" (Isaiah 32:17). The Psalmist observes: 
"When loving kindness and truth have met together, then righteousness 
and peace have kissed each other" (Psalms 85:11). 

The Talmudic rabbis stress that justice is a precondition for peace: 
"The world rests on three things: on justice, on truth, and on peace. And 
all three are one, for where there is justice, there is also truth, and there is 



According to the Jewish tradition, progress toward more just condi- 
tions, less waste, and more equitable sharing of resources will reduce the 
chances of war and violence. This means working to change economic and 
production systems that result in waste and exploitation and keep the 
majority of the world's people in poverty. 

Judaism on Treatment of Enemies 

Judaism offers very powerful statements about how one should regard and 
treat one's enemies: 

Rejoice not when your enemy falls, 

And let not your heart be glad when he stumbles. 

(Proverbs 24:17) 

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, 

And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. (Proverbs 25:21) 

God feels compassion even for the enemies of the Jewish people: 

In the hour when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea [while the 
waters drowned the Egyptians], the ministering angels wanted to 
sing a song of praise before God. But He said to them: "My hand- 
iwork is drowning in the sea, and you want to sing a song before 
Me!" 20 

On Passover, which commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, Jews 
temper their celebration of our freedom because Egyptians died during the 
Israelites' liberation. This is reflected in two Passover observances: 


1 . At the Seder table, one drop of wine is spilled at the recitation of each 
of the ten plagues, to reduce our joy (since wine symbolizes joy). 

2. The complete Hallel, hymns of praise to God, is recited on only the 
first two days of Passover. On the rest of the holiday, only part of Hallel is 
said (because the crossing of the sea and drowning of the Egyptians took 
place on the last days). By contrast, on the harvest festival of Sukkot, the 
entire Hallel is recited during the entire week, because everyone, Jew and 
Gentile alike, can rejoice in the produce of the land. 

Judaism does not believe that another person or nation need be 
considered a permanent enemy. Under the right conditions, positive 
changes can occur: "Who is the mightiest of heroes? He who makes his 
enemy into his friend." 21 Judaism believes that forbearance to adversaries 
can lead to understanding and eventually to reconciliation. Many state- 
ments in the Jewish tradition point to ways of eventually establishing 
reconciliation with enemies: "Say not, I will pay back evil" (Proverbs 
20:22); and "When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his 
enemies to be at peace with him" (Proverbs 16:7). 

The following story epitomizes the Jewish stress on converting an 
enemy into a friend. Samuel ibn Nagrela, a Spanish Jewish poet of the 
eleventh century, was vizier to the king of Granada. One day a certain man 
cursed Samuel in the presence of the king. The king commanded Samuel 
to punish the offender by cutting out his tongue. When Samuel treated his 
enemy kindly instead, the curses became blessings. When the king saw 
that Samuel had not carried out his command, he asked why not. Samuel 
replied, "I have indeed torn out his angry tongue and given him instead a 
kindly one." 22 

By treating an enemy as a human being created in God's image, enti- 
tled to respect and sometimes in need of help, we can often obtain a recon- 
ciliation. Based on a biblical verse, a Talmudic sage expounds the following 

Rabbi Alexandri said: Two ass-drivers who hate each other are 
traveling on the road. The ass of one of them falls under its burden 
and his companion bypasses him. But then he says to himself, "It 
is written in the Torah: "If you see the ass of him that hates you 


lying under its burden, you shall forebear to pass by him; you shall 
surely release it with him" (Exodus 23:5). He immediately turns 
back and helps his fellow to reload. The other ass-driver then 
begins to meditate in his heart, saying, "This man is really my 
friend and I did not know it." Both then enter an inn, and eat and 
drink together. 25 

Philo, the great Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, Egypt in the 
first century of the Common Era, comments on the same biblical passage. 
He indicates that, by fulfilling it, 

you will benefit yourself more than him: he gains help [with 
unloading his animal], you, the greatest and most precious 
treasure: true goodness. And this, as surely as the shadow follows 
the body, will be followed by a termination of the feud. He is 
drawn toward amity by the kindness that holds him in bondage. 
You, his helper, with a good action to assist your counsels, are 
predisposed to thoughts of reconciliation. 24 

The Talmud teaches: "If two people claim your help, and one is your 
enemy, help him first." 23 This is based on the importance of converting an 
enemy into a friend. 

Significantly, history shows that even staunch foes often later establish 
positive relations. Germany and Japan, both bitter enemies of the United 
States during World War II, are now considered important trading and 
military allies of the U.S. While there was talk about a possible nuclear war 
with China not too long ago, that country has become a major trading 
partner. The "demonization of enemies" is incompatible with both Jewish 
values and the lessons of recent world history. 

Jewish Teachings on Nonviolence 

Although Jewish religious texts frequently deal with war, Judaism does not 
glorify war for its own sake. The underlying attitude of Jewish tradition is 
an abhorrence of violence and an affirmation of the obligation to work and 
make sacrifices for the ultimate goal of peace. 


The prophets speak of the futility and limited benefit of unnecessary 
and inappropriate warfare: 

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: 

In sitting still and rest shall you be saved, 

In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; 

And you would not. 

But you said: "No, for we will flee upon horses"; 

Therefore shall you flee; 

And: "We will ride upon the swift"; 

Therefore shall your pursuers be swift. (Isaiah 30:15, 16) 

Because you have trusted in your chariots 

And in the multitude of your warriors, 

Therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, 

And all your fortresses shall be destroyed. (Hosea 10:13, 14) 

His delight is not in the strength of the horse, 

Nor is his pleasure in the legs of a man. 

But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, 

In those who hope in His steadfast love. (Psalms 147:10—11) 

The prophets proclaim that Israel should not depend solely on military 
arms and alliances, but rather, "Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and her 
returnees by righteousness" (Isaiah 1:27). 

In an extreme circumstance, Jeremiah even urged the leaders of Judah 
to submit to Babylonian invaders (who he believed had been sent to carry 
out God's punishment) without resisting, so that the Jewish people would 
live and continue to perform God's commandments: 

And I spoke to Zedekiah King of Judah according to all these- 
words, saying: "Bring your necks under the yoke of the King of 
Babylon, and serve him and his people and live. Why should you 
die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the 
pestilence, as the Lord has spoken concerning the nation that will 


not serve the King of Babylon? And hearken not unto the words 
of the [false] prophets that speak unto you, saying: 'You shall not 
serve the King of Babylon,' for they prophesy a lie unto 
you.. ..Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live; 
why should this city become desolate?" (Jeremiah 27:12-14, 17) 

While Judaism recognizes the duty of each person to protect his own life 
and to defend others from violence, it specifically prohibits the shedding 
of innocent blood: 

Murder may not be practiced to save one's life. ...A man came 
before Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi (Judah the Prince) and said to him, 
"The governor of my town has ordered me, 'Go and kill so and so; 
if not I will slay you.' " Rabba answered him, "Let him rather slay 
you than that you should commit murder; who knows whether 
your blood is redder? Perhaps his blood is redder." 26 

Even in a clear-cut case of self-defense, Judaism condemns the use of exces- 
sive violence. The Talmud stresses that if a person being pursued "could 
definitely save himself by maiming a limb of the pursuer, but instead kills 
him," the pursued is guilty of murder. 27 

Even when war is considered necessary, Judaism tries to minimize 
violence. When the Hebrews laid siege to a city in order to capture it, "it 
may not be surrounded on all four sides, but only on three in order to give 
an opportunity for escape to those who would flee for their lives." 28 Even 
when a war was for defensive purposes, each soldier had to make a sin 
offering, in recognition that any killing is an offense against God. 

To emphasize the value of peaceful relations, the Talmudic teachers 
reinterpret Biblical texts to remove their violent aspects. The best example 
is the life of King David, the great hero of ancient Israel. The Bible 
describes David's character defects and misdeeds in his use of power. The 
Talmudic sages, however, stress his creative and contemplative abilities 
rather than his aggressive characteristics. They prefer to consider him a 
pious, humble man who spent his time in Torah study and writing psalms, 
rather than a military hero. 


The Talmud similarly recasts the lives of the Jewish patriarchs. 
Whereas the Bible tells of Abraham leading forth 318 "trained men" to 
smite those who had captured Lot (Genesis 14:14), in the Talmud these 
men are considered scholars. 29 While Jacob refers to the portions he 
amassed "with my sword and my bow" (Genesis 48:22), the rabbis interpret 
Jacob's "sword" to be "prayer" and his "bow" to be "supplication." 50 

Even the character of festivals is modified by the rabbis in order to 
emphasize spiritual rather than military power. Originally, Hanukkah cele- 
brated the guerilla military victory of the Maccabees over the tyranny of 
the Syrian Greeks. The Talmud de-emphasizes the military aspects of the 
victory and stresses the holiday's religious aspect. Not one word of rabbinic 
literature extols the Maccabean battles. For example, when the Talmud 
describes the "miracle which was wrought," it refers to "the oil in the cruse 
which burned eight days" rather than to the might of the Hasmoneans 
(Maccabean army). 31 

One of the Talmudic rabbis' favorite statements was: "Be of the perse- 
cuted rather than the persecutor." 32 The following statement summarizes 
their outlook: 

They who are reviled, but revile not others, they who hear them- 
selves reproached but make no reply; they whose every act is one 
of love and who cheerfully bear their afflictions; these are the ones 
of whom scripture says: "They who love Him are as the sun going 
forth in his might." 33 

Nonviolence has often found support in Jewish history. Rabbi Yohanan 
ben Zakkai, a revered teacher of the first century CE, is the great hero of 
Jewish peaceful accommodation. When Rome was besieging Jerusalem, he 
saw the futility of further Jewish resistance to Roman power. He secretly 
left Jerusalem and met with the leader of the Roman army. When the 
Roman general saw his great wisdom, he stated that Rabbi Yohanan could 
have any wish that he desired. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai chose to estab- 
lish a school for the study of the Torah at Yavneh. Under his leadership and 
that of the many brilliant teachers who followed him, a national disaster 
that could have ended the Jewish people was converted into a new move- 
ment for perpetuating Judaism. 


From the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 CE until the estab- 
lishment of modern Israel, with very few exceptions, the Jews as a people 
never waged war. Without a government, army, or geographical territory to 
defend, Jews and Judaism survived, not through armed might, but through 
keeping faithfully to the Jewish religion and way of life. 

War is frequently not a solution, but rather brings on new and greater 
problems. The great military leader Napoleon once said to his Minister of 
Education, "Do you know, Fontanes, what astonishes me most in this 
world? The inability of force to create anything. In the long run, the sword 
is always beaten by the spirit." 34 

In a similar spirit, Chassidic master Rabbi Nachman of Breslov asserts: 

Many foolish beliefs that people once held, such as forms of idol 
worship that demanded child sacrifice, etc., have disappeared. But, 
as of yet, the foolish belief in the pursuit of war has not disap- 
peared What great thinkers they [scientists who design certain 

weapons] must be, what ingenuity they must possess to invent 
amazing weapons that kill thousands of people at once! Is there 
any greater foolishness than this — to murder so many people for 
nothing?' 5 

Another Jewish argument against the utility of warfare concerns today's 
tremendously powerful and destructive weaponry. A nuclear war would 
destroy not only soldiers, but civilians, either immediately or later (due to 
radiation). Modern nuclear weapons have the potential to put an end to 
humanity, as well as all other life on Earth. Judaism is very scrupulous about 
limiting destruction and not shedding innocent blood; shouldn't Jews be 
in the forefront of people striving for peace today? 

Yet can a Jew responsibly reject all possibility of violence? Haven't we 
obligations to defend others as well as ourselves? Can we simply remain 
passive before terror, tyranny, and injustice? Shall we not defend human 
values when they are threatened? Can Israel, for example, fail to be mili- 
tarily strong in the face of antagonism from many of its neighbors? Some- 
times war is necessary, and a call must ring forth calling the people to their 
inescapable duty: 


Proclaim this among the nations, 

Prepare war; 

Stir up the mighty men; 

Let all the men of war draw near, 

Let them come up. 

Beat your plowshares into swords, 

And your pruning hooks into spears; 

Let the weak say, "I am strong." 

Make haste and come, all you nations round about, 

And gather yourselves together; 

Cause Your mighty ones to come down, O Lord! (Joel 4:9-11) 

A pragmatic position consistent with Jewish values today is what 
Rabbi Albert Axelrad, longtime Hillel Director at Brandeis University, has 
called the "pacifoid" 36 position. He defines this as one who is "like" or 
"resembling" or "near" pacifist — that is, a person who works like a pacifist 
in pursuing peace, but accepts the need to fight if there is no alternative. 
This would include Allied resistance to Hitler in World War II, defending 
Israel against attack by Arab countries today, and responding to acts of 
terror. It must be noted that the pacifoid position is not "passivism" — lack 
of involvement. Jews must act in nonviolent ways in attempting to change 
unjust conditions. There have been many such examples in Jewish history. 

Perhaps the first recorded instance of civil disobedience is that of the 
midwives Shifra and Puah, who ignored Pharaoh's command to kill all 
male babies and saved the Israelite male children (Exodus: 1:15—21). The 
rabbis state that their action was praiseworthy because the law was geno- 
cidal and discriminatory (affecting only Jewish males), and therefore did 
not have to be obeyed. 

The great medieval philosopher Maimonides held that Jewish law 
clearly allowed for civil disobedience under certain conditions. 

One who disobeys a king's mandate, because he is engaged in the 
performance of one mitzvah or another, even an insignificant one, 
is relieved of guilt ... and one need not add that if the command 


itself involves the violation of one of God's mandates, it must not 
be obeyed!" 

May a Jew be a conscientious objector to particular military service, based 
on Torah values? The answer is yes. In 1970, the Synagogue Council of 
America, an umbrella group of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform 
rabbis and congregational groups, stated in a letter to the director of the 
Selective Service System (U.S. military draft), that Jews may claim consci- 
entious objection to war based on their understanding of the moral imper- 
atives of the Jewish tradition: 

Jewish faith, while viewing war as a dehumanizing aberration and 
enjoining a relentless quest for peace, recognizes that war can 
become a tragic, unavoidable necessity. Judaism is therefore not a 
pacifist faith in the sense that this term is generally used. 

However, this fact does not preclude the possibility of individ- 
uals developing conscientious objection to war based on their 
understanding of and sensitivity to the moral imperatives of the 
Jewish tradition. In other words, Jewish faith can indeed embrace 
conscientious objection, and Jewish religious law makes specific 
provision for the exemption of such moral objectors. It is entirely 
proper for individuals claiming such conscientious objector's status 
to be questioned about the sincerity and consistency of their 
beliefs, provided they are not singled out to meet requirements not 
applicable to members of other faiths. It is entirely improper, 
however, to reject such applications on the false ground that 
Judaism cannot embrace conscientious objection.' 8 

The Rabbinical Assembly (RA) (Conservative) made similar state- 
ments in 1934 (reaffirmed in 1941), 39 as did the Reform rabbis' Central 
Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) in 1963. 40 In 1971, the multi- 
denominational Synagogue Council of America expanded on previous 
statements to assert that selective conscientious objection to war is consis- 
tent with Judaism: 


Judaism considers each individual personally responsible before 
God for his actions. No man who violates the eternal will of the 
Creator can escape responsibility by pleading that he acted as an 
agent of another, whether that other is an individual or the state. It 
is therefore possible, under unusual circumstances, for an indi- 
vidual to find himself compelled by conscience to reject the 
demands of a human law which, to the individual in question, 
appears to conflict with the demand made on him by a higher law. 41 

What about people who are not pacifists but feel that a certain war is wrong? 
This became a profound ethical question when many Americans refused to 
fight in the Vietnam War because they felt that our involvement was illegal 
and immoral. Jewish tradition, which places great stress on the individual 
conscience, is consistent with selective conscientious objector status. 

We must always question the basis and likely results of any potential 
resort to arms. Some questions that might be raised include: Is this really 
best for the people of this country? For the people of the world? Is there no 
other way to settle our disputes? Is this battle necessary to preserve our 
ideals and values, or is it to serve special interests? Are all the facts known, 
or have we only heard one side of the issue? Who stands to gain from this 
war? Could changing our lifestyles to become less wasteful and thus less 
dependent on imported resources reduce the need to go to war? Will this 
war really solve the problem? Has the possibility of fruitful negotiation 
been fully exhausted? 

(A group that provides draft registration counseling based on Jewish 
values is the Jewish Peace Fellowship — see Appendix C.) 

Peace is Judaism's greatest value. War is one of humanity's greatest 
threats. Hence it is essential that Jews be actively involved with others in 
trying to establish harmony between people and nations, and in working 
toward the time when "nations shall not learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4). 


1 saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Behold, the 
tears of the oppressed, they had no one to comfort them! On the side of 
the oppressors there was power. (Ecclesiastes 4: 1 ) 

people today is to see the extent to which Jewish teachings about 
justice, compassion, and sharing have been neglected. The tremendous 
injustice and inequality that prevail in the world today are well described 
by Lester Brown, former Director of the WorldWatch Institute: 

In effect, our world today is in reality two worlds, one rich, one 
poor; one literate, one largely illiterate; one industrial and urban, 
one agrarian and rural; one overfed and overweight, one hungry 
and malnourished; one affluent and consumption-oriented, one 
poverty stricken and survival-oriented. North of this line [sepa- 
rating the wealthy from the poor], life expectancy closely 
approaches the Biblical 'threescore and ten'; south of it, many do 
not survive infancy. In the North, economic opportunities are 
plentiful and social mobility is high. In the South, economic 
opportunities are scarce and societies are rigidly stratified. 1 

The vast social and economic gaps between countries can be demon- 
strated through many significant statistics comparing developed countries 
(U.S., Canada, Japan, England, France, etc.) and "developing" countries 
(Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Pakistan, etc.). The per capita 



GNP of the United States is over seventy times that of Sierra Leone, even 
with an adjustment for "purchasing power parity." 2 A child born in Sweden 
can expect to live an average of forty-three years longer than a child born 
in Zambia.' Almost twenty percent of the babies born in Angola die before 
their first birthday, compared to less than one percent for France, Norway, 
Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, and many other European countries. 4 
Only three percent of the population in all sixteen countries of Western 
Africa can expect to live to sixty-five, compared to eighty percent of the 
population in Italy. 5 A person's place of birth certainly makes a difference! 
It is difficult for people in wealthy countries to realize the extent of the 
abject, chronic poverty experienced by so many of our brothers and sisters 
in the world: 

• Poverty means malnutrition. One-third to one-half of the world's 
people are undernourished (not enough calories) or malnourished (not 
enough of certain nutrients). Over 450 million people are severely and 
chronically malnourished. 6 

• Poverty means illiteracy and lack of education. Only forty-six percent 
of women in Africa were literate in 1995.' In the less developed coun- 
tries, only about half the children of secondary school age are in 
secondary schools, compared to almost a hundred percent enrollment 
in such schools in the more developed countries. 8 

• Poverty means sickness and inadequate health care. 9 One-third to 
one-half of the world's people have no access to health care. Few 
people infected with AIDS in poorer countries can afford the life- 
extending drugs used in wealthier countries. 

• Poverty means high infant and child mortality. Almost nine percent of 
the children born in Africa in 2000 died before their first birthday. 10 
Hunger and related preventable diseases kill about 34,000 children 
under the age of five daily — over twelve million per year. 11 

• Poverty means doing without basic necessities. Economist Robert 
Heilbroner has outlined what the lifestyle of a typical family living in 
an underdeveloped country is like: a minimum of furniture; a 
minimum of clothes; very crowded conditions; a paucity of food; no 
running water; no electricity, no newspapers, magazines, or books; 


perhaps a radio; very few government services; no postal service or fire- 
fighters; perhaps a school three miles away consisting of two class- 
rooms; perhaps a clinic ten miles away, tended by a midwife; and barely 
any money. 12 

• Poverty means the anguish of impossible choices, the grief of watching 
the people you love die, the humiliation of not being able to provide 
for your family, the painful challenge of surviving day by day, and the 
powerlessness to change one's fortunes. 

International movements have arisen to promote constructive 
responses to some of the worse elements of global poverty and exploita- 
tion. These include: groups who oppose sweatshop working conditions in 
developing countries (inspired in part by the labor organizers, many of 
them Jewish, who have rallied to fight sweatshops in America since before 
the Triangle Shirtwaist fire tragedy); the campaign for reducing the 
crushing and often undeserved debts of developing nations (which arises 
out of and is named after the biblical Jubilee, in which debts were 
cancelled); efforts to significantly increase aid to people in poorer regions; 
and many similar causes." 

Economic Globalization 14 

Poverty and other global issues cannot be fully discussed without consid- 
ering economic globalization, a process that is causing a fundamental 
redesign of the planet's economic, social, and political systems. It is 
producing a gigantic power shift, moving economic and political power 
away from local, state, and national governments and communities toward 
global banks, corporations, and the global bureaucracies these have 
created. Some of the aspects of globalization are: 

• The expansion of trade, with much easier movement of goods and 
services across the world; between 1950 and 1998, export of goods 
between countries surged seventeen-fold — from $311 billion to $5.4 
trillion — while the world economy only expanded sixfold. 15 

• The opening up of capital markets, which increases the movement of 
money across the world; capital flows to developing countries soared 


from $21 billion in 1970 to $227 billion in 1998, an elevenfold 
increase. 16 

• Increased foreign investment, including building plants, buying stock 
in foreign countries, and contracting subsidiaries; global foreign direct 
investment increased from $44 billion to $644 billion from 1970 to 
1998. 17 

• Improved access to communication, including the development of 
new technology like the Internet and greater availability of wireless 
and other telephones; the Internet grew by about fifty percent per year 
from 1995 to 1998, after more than doubling in size annually, on 
average, over the previous fifteen years; 18 the number of lines linking 
non-cellular phones to the global network jumped more than ninefold 
between 1960 and 1998, from eighty-nine million to 839 million. 19 

• A very rapid growth in transnational corporations; the number of 
TNCs worldwide soared from 7,000 in 1970 to 53,600 in 1998. 20 

To achieve such rapid growth, globalization requires unrestricted free 
trade, privatization of enterprise, and deregulation of corporate activity, 
which together remove the impediments that might stand in the way of 
expanded corporate activity. These impediments include: environmental, 
public health, and food safety laws; laws that guarantee workers' rights and 
opportunities; laws that permit nations to control investment in their 
countries; and laws that seek to retain national controls over local culture. 
These laws are viewed as obstacles to corporate free trade and are quickly 
being eliminated or scaled back by major new trade agreements. And while 
corporations are being deregulated and freed from constraints, nation- 
states and local governments are being harshly regulated and constrained, 
thus making it increasingly difficult to protect local tradition, identity, and 
jobs, as well as the environment and national sovereignty. 

Economic globalization could be providing many more benefits than 
have so far been shown. However, it has resulted in many negative effects 
because of its values and objectives. These include: 

• Giving primacy to economic — mainly corporate — values above all 
others. Through such institutions as the World Bank, the Interna- 


tional Monetary Fund (IMF), the North American Free Trade Associ- 
ation (NAFTA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO), and 
treaties such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), 
corporations have gained extraordinary new powers. Corporate inter- 
ests and profits are furthered by these unaccountable, undemocratic 
global bureaucracies, often at the expense of human needs and the web 
of life on earth. They are the true governing bodies in the global 
economy, usurping the powers that nations formerly had. 
Unifying and integrating all economic activity within a centralized 
"supersystem." Countries with very different cultures and economic 
traditions must all merge their economic activities within a single 
conceptual framework. The net result is what some economists call 
"global monoculture" — the global homogenization of culture, lifestyle, 
economic practice, and ideology with the corresponding sacrifice of 
local traditions, arts, values, and traditional small-scale economic 
practices. The result is that every place is starting to look very much 
like every other place, with the same malls and superstores, restaurant 
franchises, and chain hotels, the same clothes, the same cars, the same 
high-rise buildings, and increasingly the same music, art, and televi- 
sion programs. 

Undermining all considerations except economic ones. Economic 
globalization glorifies the free market and its principle actors — global 
corporations — as the engines and benefactors of the process. It places 
supreme importance on achieving increasingly rapid economic growth 
and thus constantly seeks new markets, new resources, and new and 
cheaper labor sources. The power of the largest corporations and of the 
wealthiest people is increasing. The collective worth of the world's 475 
billionaires equals the combined incomes of the poorest fifty percent 
of humanity. 21 Fifty of the largest one hundred economies in the world 
are corporations. Mitsubishi is the twenty-second largest economy in 
the world, General Motors the twenty-sixth, and Ford the thirty-first. 
Each is larger than those of many countries, including Norway, Chile, 
Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and New Zealand. 22 


It is questionable whether globalization can work even on its own 
terms. Can the limits of a finite planet be ignored? Are there sufficient 
resources — water, minerals, wood, fuel — to continue the desired rapid 
economic growth? Where will the effluents from this ambitious under- 
taking — the solids, the toxic wastes — be dumped? Can the ever-increasing 
consumption of commodities be ecologically sustained? 

There is certainly great potential value for a closer, better-connected 
world. Today we can know much more quickly and fully about problems in 
every part of the globe, and therefore potentially respond faster and more 
effectively. Trade and communication can bring information and jobs to 
previously isolated groups of poor people. Activists and movements across 
the earth can more easily connect and work together. Oppressive govern- 
ments and terrorist organizations can be more closely scrutinized and 
exposed. Universal values such as human rights; the equality of women; 
vigilant protection of the environment; freedom of speech and religion; 
the rights of children; fighting disease and hunger; reducing or eliminating 
land mines, nuclear missiles, and chemical and biological weapons; and 
stopping torture and oppression can be widely advocated, publicized, and 
organized around. Everyone gains the opportunity to learn about, and can 
come to appreciate, cultures and sites and natural phenomena that are 
worlds away. When limited by stringent guarantees of fair conditions, 
hours, and compensation for workers and care for ecosystems, interna- 
tional trade can reach and empower impoverished and suppressed individ- 
uals and groups. 

But many negative effects of globalization are already apparent: 

• Working people in developed countries are losing jobs to corporate 
flight and to high-tech machines and have been placed in a downward 
wage competition with workers in poorer countries. Many people 
believe that big businesses employ more of the world's labor force than 
do smaller businesses. However, according to the Washington-based 
Institute for Policy Studies, while the two hundred largest corporations 
in the world account for approximately thirty percent of global 
economic activity, they employ less than 0.5 percent of the global 
work force. 23 The reason is economies of scale: as companies get larger, 


it becomes more efficient for them to replace thousands of workers 
with robots and other machines. And as large companies begin to 
dominate their industries, they drive out smaller competitors and 
reduce the workforce. Such economies of scale are intrinsic to global- 
ization. Hence, consolidations and mergers result in fewer jobs, not 
more, in developed countries. 

In spite of the tremendous growth and spread of technology, with 
increasing numbers of people using computers, cellular phones, and 
other instruments of modern technology, poverty is still widespread and 
growing. In 2000, 1.3 billion of the world's six billion people lived on 
less than one dollar per day, and three billion people lived on less than 
two dollars a day. 24 From 1960 to 2000, the world's richest twenty 
percent increased their fraction of the world's wealth from seventy 
percent to 86 percent, while the poorest twenty percent of the world's 
population experienced a decrease from 2.3 percent to about one 
percent. 23 While some corporate profits were at record levels, with 
many top executives' annual salaries in the millions, the wages of most 
ordinary workers in developed countries were decreasing in real terms 
and good jobs were being replaced by temporary or part-time jobs. 
Diverse local farm production and local trades in poorer nations that 
encourage self-reliance are being replaced by huge corporate farms — 
monocultures — that no longer grow food for local people but instead 
grow flowers, beef, or coffee for export to the global economy. The 
result of this process is that millions of the world's formerly self-suffi- 
cient small farmers are becoming homeless, landless refugees. 
In India, Africa, and Latin America, millions of indigenous people and 
small farmers are displaced to make way for gigantic dams and other 
development projects. The result is that more people join the landless, 
jobless urban masses. Cities are now attempting to absorb millions of 
the newly landless refugees now roaming the globe in search of a home 
and the rare, poorly paid job. 

The gap between the wealthy and the poor within countries and 
among countries is rapidly increasing, and globalization accelerates 
the problem by separating people from their traditional livelihoods 
and creating a terrible downward pressure on wages everywhere — 


including developing countries, where low wages represent the only 
so-called comparative advantage, meaning that if wages are not kept 
down, there might be no jobs at all. 

A report from the Institute for Policy Studies in 1999 showed that 
American CEOs were paid, on average, 419 times more than assembly-line 
workers, the highest ratio in the world. 26 The report showed workers' 
median hourly wages (adjusted for inflation) down by ten percent in the 
past twenty-five years. 27 The U.S. Federal Reserve reports that the top 
twenty percent of the U.S. population owns 84.6 percent of the country's 
wealth. 28 That makes local self-reliance very difficult to achieve. 

• For most developing countries, free trade has had negative effects. For 
example, in 1986, Haiti grew most of its rice, the main staple food of 
the country, and imported only 7,000 tons of rice. In the late 1980s, as 
Haiti lifted tariffs on rice imports in compliance with free trade poli- 
cies insisted upon by international lending agencies, cheaper rice 
flowed in from the U.S., where the rice industry receives government 
subsidies. Haiti's peasant farmers could not compete, and by 1996, 
Haiti's rice production became negligible and the country was 
importing 196,000 tons of foreign rice at a cost of $100 million per 
year. 29 After the dependence on foreign rice was complete, and the 
Haitian people were dependent on grain imports, prices increased 
substantially, and a hungry nation became even hungrier. 30 

Because of such conditions, poor countries are on a treadmill and have 
to work harder and harder just to maintain their (inadequate) standard of 
living. These unfavorable trade relations produce what is known as the 
"spiral of debt." It happens because the developing countries are locked in 
by the economic, political, and military power of wealthy countries. They 
must export cheap items and import more expensive ones. 

• The imperatives of global economic expansion, accelerated by free 
trade, the overuse of resources, and the worldwide promotion of the 
consumer lifestyle by advertising, are a major factor behind environ- 


mental problems such as global climate change, habitat destruction, 
ozone depletion, ocean pollution, and shortages of water and other 
resources. As environmental leader Paul Hawken says, "Given current 
corporate practices, not one wildlife reserve, wilderness, or indigenous 
culture will survive the global economy. We know that every natural 
system on the planet is disintegrating. The land, water, air, and sea 
have been functionally transformed from life-supporting systems into 
repositories for waste. There is no polite way to say that business is 
destroying the world." 31 

Using the technologies of global computer networks, currency specu- 
lators can move vast amounts of money invisibly and instantaneously 
from one part of the world to another, destabilizing currencies and 
countries, and forcing nations to seek the harsh solution of an Inter- 
national Monetary Fund bailout. This practice has already destabilized 
many countries' economies and was a significant factor in the 
1997-1998 Asian financial crisis. 

The central control of much of the world food and seed supply by giant 
corporations which effectively determine where food will be grown, by 
whom, and what price consumers will ultimately pay, contributes to 
widespread hunger. Food formerly eaten by the people who grew it is 
now exported — transported thousands of miles at major environ- 
mental cost — to be eaten by affluent people who are already well-fed, 
or fed in large amounts to farmed animals who are destined for 
slaughter. As indicated in Chapter 6, global agribusiness and interna- 
tional monetary organizations are trying to double the number of 
farmed animals by 2020, by encouraging the consumption of animal 
products in developing countries, despite the many negative effects of 
animal-based diets and agriculture. 

There have been recent outbreaks of deadly new diseases such as Ebola 
hemorrhagic fever, mad cow disease, E. coli infection, and the West 
Nile virus. Though it is generally not reported in the press, there is a 
connection between those outbreaks and the new mobility provided to 
disease vectors by global transport. Microbes and species that were 
once contained within geographic boundaries are now let loose by 
travel and trade. The industrialization of agriculture for mass export 


production to serve global economies plays a role in the outbreaks of 
E. coli, mad cow, and foot and mouth diseases. 

• There have been assaults on the last indigenous tribes in the Amazon, 
Borneo, and the Philippines because the globalization process needs 
more water, forests, or genetic resources in areas where the Indians 
have lived for millennia, and because corporations wish to convert 
self-sufficient people into consumers. These forces are rapidly leading 
to the monoculturalization of peoples and lands, and the homogeniza- 
tion of cultural frameworks. 

• The growing emphasis on export and import as part of the new global 
system requires vast new road-building and road-widening schemes 
and an expanded transport infrastructure with more high-speed traffic. 
As a result, the quality of rural life is rapidly worsening. 

• Ed Ayres, editor of WorldWatch, summarizes the effects of globalization 
on local communities "where growing numbers of people find their 
sense of security being eroded by a phalanx of larger forces": 

There is the "Wal-Mart" phenomenon, for example, in which a 
large chain store uses its marketing muscle to drive local stores out 
of business, while taking what used to be the local owners' 
revenues and sending them off to distant corporate coffers. There 
is the related "empty storefront" phenomenon, in which the 
increasing concentration of an industry into larger, more "effi- 
cient" outlets means fewer outlets remain in small communities 
(the numbers of independent car dealers, food stores, drug stores, 
book stores, and farms in the wealthy countries have all declined 
sharply in the past several decades). In the developing countries, 
there is the "structural adjustment" phenomenon, wherein inter- 
national lending agencies have pushed governments to adopt poli- 
cies favoring production for export at the expense of local self- 
sufficiency. And wherever urban areas are expanding around the 
world, whether into exploding suburbs or imploding shantytowns, 
there is the "don't know my neighbors" problem. Even as we 
humans become more numerous, we become more socially isolated 
and uneasy." 


In summary, many problems — overcrowded cities, unusual new 
weather patterns, the growth of global poverty, the spread of new diseases, 
the lowering of wages, the elimination of social services, the reduction of 
national soverignty and local democracy, the destruction of the environ- 
ment, decaying communities, and the loss of indigenous culture — are all 
strongly linked to the same global processes. They are tied to the world's 
new economic arrangement, in the cause of an economic ideology that 
cannot serve social or ecological sustainability. 

In the end it comes down to this: Who should make the rules we live 
by? Should it be democratic governments, influenced by local communi- 
ties concerned about what is good for people and the environment? Or 
should it be the global community of transnational bankers, corporations, 
and speculators? The new rules of globalization are actively undermining 
people's ability to control their own fate. 

Because of the many negative effects of economic globalization, there 
have been many recent protests against it. In November 1999, tens of 
thousands of people from all over the world took to the streets of Seattle 
in a massive protest against the policies of the WTO. The angry protesters 
comprised a very varied group, including farmers, immigration-rights 
activists, labor unionists, environmentalists, small-business owners, 
animal rights activists, religious practitioners, and many others. 

The "battle of Seattle" marked a critical turning point. While only six 
or seven years ago the term "globalization" was virtually unknown, an 
outburst of anger against many aspects of it has erupted. Since Seattle, 
there have been major protests at meetings of international trade and 
monetary groups in Washington, D.C., in April 2000, in Chiang Mai, 
Thailand in May 2000, in Melbourne, Australia in early September 2000, 
in Prague in late September 2000, and in Genoa, Italy in July 2001. Resis- 
tance is growing, and the media are beginning to pay attention. 

Many of these demonstrations have been marred by senseless violence, 
much of it initiated by relatively small groups of nihilistic conflict-seekers 
and faux "anarchists." The vast majority of protesters have been sincere 
and peaceful, and in fact the movement critical of the way globalization 
has developed in actual practice has created closeness and communication 
between such diverse groups as environmental campaigners, sweatshop 


opponents, trade unionists, advocates for the developing world, and critics 
of the bioengineering of foods. 

A striking governmental confirmation of the extremely harmful 
impact of international monetary organizations came from a 1998 report of 
the International Financial Institution Advisory Committee. This 
committee was created by the U.S. Congress and its report is commonly 
known as the Meltzer Report, after its chairman Alan Meltzer, a conserva- 
tive academic. Among its devastating conclusions are: 33 

• Rather than promoting economic growth, the IMF institu- 
tionalizes economic stagnation. 

• The World Bank is irrelevant, not central, to the goal of elim- 
inating global poverty. 

• Both the World Bank and the IMF are driven primarily by the 
political and economic interests of the wealthy nations, rather 
than the needs of the poor. 

• The IMF's mandate of ensuring a stable global financial order 
was often undermined by its encouragement of irresponsible 
investments, and by its prescribing of tight fiscal policies that 
worsened the situation rather than improved it in countries 
facing crises. 

In September 2001, about 300 religious leaders signed a Statement and 
Call, "Global Arrogance or Planetary Community? — A Call to Commu- 
nities of Faith" that was developed and distributed by the Shalom Center 
and several other organizations involved with global issues, including the 
Religious Working Group on the World Bank and IMF 34 The introductory 
section of the Statement and Call indicated that the signers were 
covenanting together to oppose "unaccountable corporate globalization" 
and "to seek instead a planetary community of the earth and its peoples, 
workers and congregants, families and neighborhoods." 35 

The Statement called on signers to bring the Statement and Call and 
the teachings of their religious traditions about "globalization" to their 
home congregations and communities through a fast of contrition and 


commitment, and a gathering in Washington, D.C. for a religious service 
and a candlelight vigil.' 6 

The Statement and Call asserted: 

The global corporations have invented unaccountable, undemoc- 
ratic institutions [including the World Bank and the International 
Monetary Fund] to shield them from the will of the 

people [These institutions advance corporate interests by] 

insisting that loans and grants be conditioned on [cutbacks in 
desperately needed] social programs, public schools, public health, 
and water supplies ... [by imposing] privatization of the basic 
needs of life... [by encouraging] sweatshops and the smashing of 
labor unions ... by destroying the lives and hopes of children [and 
supporting child labor] ... by doing all this first to the poor in the 
poorest societies ... and then, through the threat of capital export 
and cut-throat competition, putting workers, consumers, and the 
earth itself in danger in even the more prosperous societies. 

The call and statement ended by demanding that 

The World Bank and IMF cancel the crushing debt of the nations 
that [those same international organizations] themselves have 
impoverished and forced into debt ... [condition all grants and 
loans on] workers' freedom to organize unions and everyone's 
freedom to [advocate protection of the environment] and . . . that 
they open their own meetings and deliberation to public scrutiny 
and democratic control." 

As a follow-up to the Statement and Call, the Shalom Center is 
preparing study guides for synagogues and churches that will facilitate local 
congregational work on five major aspects of globalization — top-down 
control; damage to the earth; the oppression of workers; the pressure for 
overwhelming overwork that distorts families, neighborhoods, and spiri- 
tual life; and the destruction of public health and other public services — 
and to bring sacred texts and teachings to bear on those problems. 38 


Fortunately, there is an alternative to current economic globalization 
practices, an approach far better for the world's people as well as for global 
sustainability. This is the way of genuinely applying Jewish values: bal tash- 
chit (reducing waste), so that we are not dependent on repressive regimes 
for resources; treating every person as created in God's image, so that we 
will work to end violations of human rights wherever they occur; the 
pursuit of justice, to end the conditions whereby a minority of the world's 
people prosper while the majority lack food and other basic human needs; 
and the pursuit of peace, so that arms races that drain the world's labor, 
ingenuity, and resources can be reduced. Only these alternatives can result 
in global harmony and humane conditions for the world's people. 

Judaism and International Concerns 

Judaism encompasses universal as well as particular concerns. Particular 
aspects include observances of the Sabbath and holy days, rules of kashrut 
(kosher eating), and prayer obligations. Jews are taught to be especially 
concerned about their co-religionists: "All Israel is responsible, one for 
each other." 39 However, the message of Judaism is also universal, expressing 
concern for each person and every nation. We have already discussed 
many Jewish teachings related to humanity: every person is created in 
God's image; every life is sacred and is to be treated with dignity and 
respect; we should be kind to the stranger, for we were strangers in the land 
of Egypt; we should show compassion even to enemies. Additional Jewish 
universal teachings include: 

• The first covenant God made was with Noah, on behalf of the entire 
human race as well as the animal kingdom (Genesis 9:11). 

• Abraham challenged God on behalf of the pagan, evil-doing cities of 
Sodom and Gomorrah. In an attempt to save the righteous, he 
pleaded, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly?" (Genesis 

• Some of the noblest characters in Scripture are not necessarily Jewish. 
Ruth, a Moabite who later became an Israelite, is presented as a model 
of an ideal human being, representing the values of kindness, self- 
sacrificing loyalty, and love. Job, the symbol of the righteous person 



who maintains his faith in God in spite of unprecedented suffering, is 

not generally depicted as a Jew. 

Some of Israel's greatest leaders were descendants of proselytes. This 

includes King David, who is the ancestor of the Messiah. The Eighteen 

Benedictions of the Prayer Book include a special prayer for "righteous 

proselytes." Hillel, the foremost Talmudic sage of his day, received 

converts with special eagerness. 

Even of the traditional enemy of the Jewish people, the Edomites, it is 

said; "You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother" 

(Deuteronomy 23:8). 

The prophets stress that Jews have a universal mandate, a charge to 

improve conditions for all the world's people. Consider, for example, 

these words of Isaiah: 

Thus says God, the Lord... 

I the Lord have called you in righteousness, 

And have taken hold of your hand, 

And kept you, and set you for a covenant of the people, 

For a light unto the nations; 

To open the blind eyes, 

To bring the prisoners from the dungeon, 

And them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. 

(Isaiah 42:6-7) 

Throughout their history, Jews have worked not for individual salva- 
tion, but for salvation for the entire world: 

In that day, there shall be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The 
Assyrians shall join with the Egyptians and Egyptians with Assyr- 
ians, and both countries shall serve the Lord. In that day, Israel 
shall be a third partner with Egypt and Assyria as a blessing on 
earth; for the Lord of Hosts will bless them, saying, "Blessed be My 
people, Egypt, My handiwork Assyria, and My very own Israel." 
(Isaiah 19:23-25) 


• Hillel, in his famous formulation, teaches that we must be concerned 
with other people as well as ourselves: 

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for 
myself, what am I? And if not now, when? 40 

• The prophet Malachi powerfully expresses Jewish universal concerns: 

Have we not all one father? 

Has not one God created us? 

Why then do we deal treacherously with one another, 

profaning the covenant of our fathers? (Malachi 2:10) 

• Amos proclaims God's concern for all nations: 

"Are you not like the Ethiopians to Me, O people of Israel?" says 
the Lord. 

"Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the 
Philistines from Caphtor; and the Syrians from Kir?" (Amos 9:7) 

• Jeremiah was appointed as "a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5). 
God tells him: 

See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to 
pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build 
and to plant. (Jeremiah 1:10) 

• The Book of Jonah shows God's concern for the Gentile inhabitants of 
the city of Nineveh, the very same people who destroyed the ancient 
state of Israel. Jonah, a Jew, is sent to teach the people of Nineveh to 
repent and serve God, and is taught, in turn, that God cares for all 
people, as well as animals. 

• The Talmud states: "The pious of all nations shall have a place in the 


• During the festival of Sukkot in the days of the Temple of Jerusalem, 
seventy sacrifices were made for the "seventy nations" (a term that 
represented all sectors of humanity). 

The sukkah (temporary harvest booth dwelt in by Jews during Sukkot) 
must possess enough of an opening through the top so that the person 
inside can see the stars and the universe beyond, perhaps to remind us that 
there are worlds and nations beyond our own, which always deserve 

After a benediction is recited, the lulav (the palm branch that is held 
during Sukkot) is waved to the north, south, east, and west, and then up 
and down, to signify that God's sovereignty is universal in all directions. 
Hence, when we pray for salvation and help, we must have in mind these 
blessings not only for ourselves, but also for humanity. 

Rabbi Hanina, a third-century sage, stated that salvation for the world 
would come only when the nations accepted the lesson of the sukkah and 
the lulav: that no nation can experience prosperity and happiness unless 
there is harmony among all nations. 42 

• The sages declare that any person can accept the Torah: 

The Torah was given in public, openly, in a free place. For had the 
Torah been given in the Land of Israel, the Israelites could have 
said to the nations of the world: "You have no share in it," but now 
that it has been given in the wilderness, publicly and openly, in a 
place that is free for all, everyone willing to accept it may come 
and accept it. 43 

• A Chassidic wisdom-story expresses the universal spirit of Judaism: 

"Why," a student asked, "is the stork called in Hebrew Chassidah, 
which means the loving one?" 

"Because," the rabbi answered, "he gives so much love to his wife 
and offspring." 


"Then why," asked the student, "if he gives so much love to his 
mate and his young, is the stork considered trayfe (forbidden as 
food) rather than kosher?" 

"He is considered trayfe" the rabbi answered, "because he gives 
love only to his own." 44 

• Rabbi Nachman of Breslov asserts: 

[Our sages taught that] every person must say, "the whole world 
was created for my sake." 43 Therefore, since the whole world was 
created for my sake, I must always be concerned with improving 
the world, fulfilling the needs of humanity, and praying for its 
benefit. 46 

The concept of Jews as a "chosen people" has often been misinter- 
preted as a form of exclusivity. But the prophets remind the people that 
being chosen does not mean divine favoritism, nor does it guarantee 
immunity from punishment; on the contrary, it means being held to a 
higher standard and thus being more intensely exposed to God's judgment 
and chastisement: 

Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of 
Israel, against the whole family whom I brought up out of the land 
of Egypt. You only have I known of all the families of the earth. 
Therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities. (Amos 3:1-2) 

As Jewish history attests, "chosenness" certainly does not mean that Jews 
will always prosper and be free from troubles. 

Judaism's international vision is one of peace and righteousness for all 
of humanity: 

In the end of days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the 
Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and 
it shall be exalted above the hills. Peoples shall flow unto it, and 
many nations shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the moun- 


tain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; So that He may 
teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths." For the Torah 
shall go forth from Zion, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 
And He shall judge among many peoples, and rebuke strong 
nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares and 
their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword 
against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore. They shall 
sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall 
make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken 
it. For all the peoples will walk every one in the name of his god; 
we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever. (Micah 

For global harmony, "a law (Torah) must go forth from Zion." Such a 
"law" has been proclaimed, but the nations have refused to acknowledge 
it. It is a law that states that there is one Creator of the entire world, that 
every person, created in God's image, is of infinite worth and ought to be 
able to share in the bounties provided by God's earth, and that people and 
nations must seek peace, pursue justice, and love others, since they are like 
themselves. If people and nations took this law out of Zion seriously, there 
would be increased harmony and peace, and sufficient resources for all the 
world's people. 

Micah's words provide a moral blueprint for the world, a covenant 
rooted in truth and justice that supports the structure of peace. This is 
explicitly spelled out by the Talmudic teaching mentioned in the previous 

Upon three things the world rests, upon justice, upon truth, and 
upon peace. And the three are one, for when justice is practiced, 
truth prevails, and peace is established. 47 

While the prophets believed that different nations would continue to 
exist, they were true internationalists who urged and foresaw the creation 
of proper relations among nations, based on peace, justice, and truth. Their 
vision represented a farsighted view of national interests, in which love of 


one's country and loyalty to humanity represent two concentric circles. 48 
The philosopher George Santayana stated, "A man's feet may be firmly 
planted in his own country, but his eyes serve the world." Rabbi Robert 
Cordis added: "The prophets went further; their hearts embraced the 
world." 49 

In ways consistent with Jewish tradition and values, Jews must be in 
the forefront of those working for greater international justice, so that the 
needs of all the world's people may be met, and nations will finally beat 
their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and each 
person will be able to sit unafraid, "under his vine and fig tree." 


A generation goes and a generation comes but the earth endures forever. 
And the sun rises and the sun sets — then to its place it rushes; there it 
rises again. It goes toward the south and veers toward the north. 
The wind goes round and round, and on its rounds the wind returns. 
All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place where 
the rivers flow, there they flow once more. (Ecclesiastes 1:4-7) 

OPEC boycott produced an energy crisis in the United States. Six years 
later, the Iran-Iraq war shut off four million barrels of the world's daily oil 
supplies almost overnight, and energy prices more than doubled in one 
year. As a result, the 1970s was a time of energy shortages and a wave of 
inflation in all industrialized countries. This resulted in rationing and long 
lines of vehicles at service stations, and in drivers, homeowners, and indus- 
tries having to pay very high prices for available fuel. 

After these crises, energy supplies were relatively stable. However, in 
early 2001 a series of brownouts (rolling blackouts) in California and 
rapidly rising gasoline prices thrust the energy issue back into the fore- 
ground. Announcing the recommendations of his energy task force headed 
by Vice President Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush argued that if 
America failed to act now, "this great country could face a darker future, a 
future that is, unfortunately, being previewed in rising prices at the gas 
pump and rolling blackouts in the great state of California." 1 Bush stated 
that "America needs an energy plan that faces up to our energy challenges 
and meets them." 2 The White House task force's report cited a "funda- 



mental imbalance between supply and demand" and depicted the poten- 
tial for a very gloomy energy picture, including high gasoline and elec- 
tricity prices across much of the country, soaring natural gas prices causing 
havoc with farmers, and the possibility of power blackouts in the West and 
Northeast. 3 

As long ago as the 1970s, energy expert Amory Lovins argued that 
there were two primary approaches to obtaining adequate energy: the 
"hard" path and the "soft" path. 4 The hard path assumes that we need to 
obtain energy from coal, oil, uranium, and synthetic sources to continue 
our historic increase in energy use and that, in fact, such increased energy 
consumption is necessary for our country to prosper. Advocates of the soft 
energy path assert that energy efficiency and conservation are the primary 
answers to current problems, and that renewable energy sources based on 
sun, wind, flowing water, and biomass should be used to provide much of 
our energy, without the dangers associated with hard energy fuels. 3 

While it has a few elements of conservation and renewable energy, the 
main thrust of the Bush task force is toward the hard energy path. Their 
plan calls for easing regulatory barriers to building nuclear power plants, 
expanding oil and gas development and the construction of fossil fuel 
power plants, building new refineries, and improving the nation's inade- 
quate and sometimes precarious electricity grid. Among the report's most 
controversial recommendations is permitting drilling in the Arctic 
National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. 

Responses to the Bush task force energy recommendations were 
predictable, with Republicans and oil, gas, and nuclear interests strongly 
supporting it, and Democrats and environmentalists loudly opposing it. 
Republicans argued that the White House's call for expanded oil and gas 
exploration and the revival of the nuclear power industry was an important 
step toward ending the energy shortages that had led to the rolling black- 
outs in California and $2-a-gallon gasoline. Republican House and Senate 
leaders argued that the president's proposals were a balanced effort to 
develop new energy supplies while protecting the environment. Senator 
Frank H. Murkowski, the Alaska Republican who was chairman of the 
Senate Energy Committee stated, "Today we have an energy policy. 
Yesterday we didn't." 6 


He said Mr. Bush's plan "is the first national energy plan in a genera- 
tion; it is comprehensive, it is balanced, and it delivers us to energy 
stability and security." 7 Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois 
said the White House proposal "strikes the right balance by successfully 
boosting conservation, implementing renewable fuels and 21st-century 
technologies, and ensuring safe exploration." 8 

Congressional Democrats denounced the plan as a present to Mr. 
Bush's old energy industry business colleagues and a severe environmental 
threat. They said it failed to help consumers struggling to cope with fast- 
rising prices for gasoline and electricity. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, 
then Senate Minority Leader, now Majority Leader as of June 2001, vowed 
to block any effort to legislate any parts of President Bush's plan, especially 
its proposal for drilling in the Arctic refuge. 9 He stated that the president's 
plan "is not a plan for America's future. It's a page from our past. It relies 
almost exclusively on the old ways of doing things: drilling more oil wells, 
burning more coal, and using more natural gas. That jeopardizes our envi- 
ronment." 10 Senate Democrats took the offensive, releasing an energy bill 
that focuses on conserving energy and boosting renewable fuels. Senator 
Daschle said the U.S. "cannot drill our way out of this problem" and 
accused President Bush of using the country's energy problems to justify 
"an all-out assault on the environment." 11 Like the GOP energy package 
introduced earlier, the Democratic alternative would expand domestic 
energy production. But it stresses tax incentives to promote energy effi- 
ciency and wind and solar power, and includes a provision that requires 
light trucks and SUVs (sport utility vehicles) to achieve fuel efficiencies 
by 2008 comparable to those required of (and achieved by) automobiles. 12 

In view of these sharply divergent opinions (which illustrate the vast 
differences between advocates of the hard energy path and the soft energy 
path), what criteria should be used to select a proper energy path? They 
should include such Jewish values as bal tashchit (you shall not waste), "the 
earth is the Lord's," the sanctity of human life, being mindful of the needs 
and circumstances of future generations, the dignity of labor, and proper 
use of the cycles of sun, water, and wind God has provided for our (respon- 


sible) use and enjoyment. Let us consider future energy choices in light of 
each of these considerations. 

Bal Tashchit 

Consistent with the Biblical mandate not to waste or unnecessarily destroy 
anything of value (Deuteronomy 20:19, 20), supporters of the soft energy 
path advocate a strong reliance on conservation. 

The U.S. is extremely wasteful of energy. With about 4.5 percent of 
the world's people, we are responsible for about twenty-four percent of its 
energy use (the highest per capita consumption in the world). 13 Europe and 
Japan use about half as much energy relative to Gross Domestic Product 
(GDP) as the United States. Yet European and Japanese people have 
comfortable standards of living. 14 Partly because of wasteful energy use, 
U.S. electrical energy demand doubled about every ten years during the 
twentieth century. 

In spite of major improvements in the energy efficiency of appliances, 
lights, buildings, and industrial appliances, U.S. per capita energy 
consumption in 2000 was within two percent of its peak in 1973, before 
the first oil embargo. 13 This is primarily because (1) we buy bigger cars 
(minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks account for more than half of all new 
vehicle sales — though it should be acknowledged that these vehicles 
sometimes meet legitimate needs, including work requirements and the 
challenges of severe winter weather); (2) we buy bigger homes (the average 
house size increased from 1,600 square feet in 1973 to 2,100 square feet in 
2000, even though the average household shrank from 3.6 to 3 people); 
and (3) we use more electrical gadgets (since 1973, the average energy use 
by computers, VCRs, dishwashers, and other appliances has been 
increasing by five percent per year). 16 

Energy made available through conservation is cheaper, safer, more 
reliable, less polluting, and creates more jobs than energy obtained from 
any other source. 17 Conservation doesn't mean, as President Reagan once 
put it, being "too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter." It does 
mean more effective use of fuel: more efficient automobiles, better-insu- 
lated homes and offices, reuse of resources, design of equipment and 


machines for longer life, and the turning off of lights and equipment when 
they are not being used. 

Several studies have shown that we can continue to grow economi- 
cally and to maintain, even improve, our lifestyles while reducing our use 
of energy. According to a report released in September 2000 by the Amer- 
ican Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the U.S. cut its 
energy intensity — or energy used per unit of gross domestic product 
(GDP) — by forty-two percent between 1970 and 1999, while also cutting 
its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by forty-seven percent. 18 Still, much 
more progress needs to be made. The ACEEE recommends creating incen- 
tives for the use of renewable power and efficient technologies, phasing out 
old coal-fired power plants, and taxing gas-guzzling light trucks and cars 
(using the revenue generated to give subsidies to buyers of fuel-efficient 
vehicles). 19 

Energy conservation saved California $34 billion between 1977 and 
2000, roughly $ 1 ,000 for each resident, and has played a big role in helping 
the state's economy grow, according to a state-commissioned report. 20 
(Conservation and efficiency also delayed the summer, 2001 crisis in Cali- 
fornia and made it shorter and easier to recover from; the feared disaster 
was averted.) The report came as the California legislature was considering 
bills to extend beyond 2000 a four-year-old charge on utility bills that helps 
fund energy conservation and costs most families a few dollars a month. 21 
The report's lead author, Mark Bernstein, said the study's findings should 
"end the debate" about the wisdom of the charge because promoting 
energy conservation will likely lower utility payments for most families. 
The report indicates that simple changes, such as improving wall insula- 
tion and replacing old appliances, can cut as much as $400 from a house- 
hold's annual utility bill. 22 

However, according to the late energy expert Donella Meadows, 
energy deregulation and restructuring not only contributed to the energy 
crisis in California in 2001, but reduced incentives for greater efficiency. 23 
It is cheaper and far better for the environment to install more efficient 
devices. Before deregulation, it cost utilities less to subsidize more efficient 
bulbs than to build another huge power plant. In the deregulated system, 


however, utilities have only one incentive: to sell as much power as 

As a sign of the increasing interest in energy conservation, in 
September 2000 a coalition of thirty-eight businesses and environmental 
groups, ranging from the Whirlpool Corporation to the Natural Resources 
Defense Council, called on President Clinton to do more to promote 
energy efficiency. 24 The coalition urged Clinton to push for new tax incen- 
tives for buyers of energy-efficient products and increased government 
investment in renewable energy and clean technologies. 23 In a letter to the 
President, the coalition also called for $200 million in additional govern- 
ment funding to help low-income families weatherize their homes, and for 
more research and development on ways to reduce consumption of natural 
gas and oil. 26 

A valuable resource for religious congregations that wish to conserve 
energy is a 100-page guide, "Putting Energy into Stewardship," a publica- 
tion of "ENERGY STAR for Congregations," 27 a free technical support and 
information service of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Energy 
Star helps with cost and savings calculations, responds to questions on 
facilities and equipment, and generally provides free technical support to 
prevent pollution through energy efficiency. The Web site also provides 
online "success stories," a national awards program for congregations' 
energy efficiency efforts, a directory of finance for energy upgrades, and an 
interactive map for locating energy efficiency products and services 
contractors and vendors. 28 

One indication that our society can do far more to conserve energy is 
found in a 2000 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 
which indicates that the average gas mileage for year 2000 model passenger 
vehicles was only twenty-four miles per gallon, the lowest value since 
1980. 29 The report indicates that the recent drop in fuel economy is due to 
a surge in sales of vans, pickup trucks, SUVs, and luxury cars, all inefficient 
users of gas. Faced with rising gasoline prices, some Americans are trading 
in their SUVs and gas-guzzling cars for more efficient vehicles. The trend, 
if it continues, is good news for the environment. According to a study by 
the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, the 
U.S. could decrease its crude-oil imports by 170,000 barrels a day — sixty- 


two million barrels a year — if consumers switched from SUVs to higher- 
mileage vehicles. 30 Michelle Robinson, Senior Advocate at the Union of 
Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles Program, states: "Curbing our oil 
appetite through more efficient SUVs and light trucks could save more oil 
within the next fifteen years than can be economically recovered from the 
[Alaskan] Arctic over the next fifty years." 31 

Affordable technologies to boost the fuel economy of SUVs and light 
trucks are readily available. Simple modifications, such as engine upgrades 
and more efficient transmissions, could make light trucks and SUVs fifty 
percent more efficient without sacrificing performance. Advanced tech- 
nologies such as hybrid and fuel cell vehicles promise even greater gains. 
UCS's Michelle Robinson writes: "Technology has provided a way to 
reduce oil use. Now it's up to policymakers to supply the will. Nobody's 
saying we should go cold-turkey on fossil fuels. But it's time we wean 
ourselves off our oil addiction." 32 

However, even in the face of rising gas prices, White House spokesman 
Ari Fleischer said in May 2001 that President Bush would not urge Amer- 
icans to conserve: "That [a focus on conservation] is a big no. The presi- 
dent believes that it [heavy energy use] is an American way of life, and that 
it should be the goal of policy-makers to protect the American way of life. 
The American way of life is a blessed one." 33 The administration's 2001 
budget slashed funding for renewable energy research and development 
and for solar, wind, and geothermal energy programs by nearly fifty 
percent. 34 Alan Nogee, Clean Energy Program Director for UCS said: "The 
president's budget has nearly switched off funding for renewable power. 
Continued support would make these technologies even more competitive 
with fossil fuels." 35 

"The Earth is the Lord's and the Fullness Thereof" (Psalm 24:1) 

Soft energy methods based on renewable resources and conservation have 
a relatively minor impact on the environment. The hard energy path, on 
the other hand, causes many threats to already fragile ecosystems: 36 


• Effluents from coal-burning power plants, such as sulfur dioxide and 
particulate matter (particles), pollute the air. Especially when acting 
together, these pollutants are extremely detrimental to human health. 

• When high smokestacks are used, sulfur dioxide from coal-burning 
power plants combines with water vapor to form sulfuric acid. Later, 
this toxic chemical falls to the earth as acid rain, which has badly 
damaged crop areas and lakes in many regions, including eastern 
Canada and the Adirondack Mountains. 

• Major oil spills severely damage marine life. 

• Heated water ejected from power-plant cooling systems causes thermal 
pollution, which affects the delicate balance of ecological systems of 
lakes, rivers, and oceans. 

• Surface strip mining for coal destroys land and results in acids running 
off and polluting nearby waters. 

The Sanctity of Human Life 

Soft energy methods involve minimal or no danger to human life. The 
hard energy path, in contrast, endangers life in several ways: 

• In spite of numerous health and safety advances in the last ten years, 
underground coal mining is still the most dangerous job. On average, 
one worker dies in the coal industry every two working days; a coal 
miner is eight times more likely to die on the job than an average 
private sector worker. 37 Many miners suffer from the painful, debili- 
tating "black lung" disease, which is caused by inhaling coal dust and 
often results in death.' 8 Because of the high death rate and the recent 
sharp decline in jobs for coal miners, there are now more coal miners' 
widows in the U.S. than there are coal miners. 39 

• Air pollution from fossil-fuel power plants causes disease and death. 

• Nuclear power plants can pose significant threats to life. Nuclear facil- 
ities expose workers and surrounding communities to cumulative doses 
of low-level radiation, which some scientists believe can result in 
various kinds of cancer, as well as genetic damage that may be passed 
on to future generations. 



Hundreds of uranium miners' deaths are linked to exposure to radia- 



Consideration for Future Generations 

Judaism teaches us to consider the effects of our actions on future genera- 
tions. A Talmudic sage posed the question "Who is the wise person?" His 
response: "The person who foresees the future consequences of his or her 
actions." 41 

The Talmud tells a story of a very old man who was planting a carob 
tree, which would not bear fruit for many years after his death. The 
Talmudic figure Honi the circle-maker asked him why he was planting it, 
when he would not live to harvest its fruit. He explained that just as he had 
been able to partake of the fruits of trees which others had planted before 
he was born, he also would plant for his descendants and others to come 
after him. 42 

Soft energy methods do not endanger future generations. Conserva- 
tion is actually an investment in the future, since saved energy and 
resources can help meet the needs of future generations. Use of renewable 
sources such as sun, wind, and water avoids future scarcities, which could 
result in inflation and war. 

Once again, hard energy sources come out worse. Among potential- 
negative effects on future generations are the following: 

• Five decades after the U.S. atomic electric power industry began accu- 
mulating nuclear waste, as temporary repositories quickly fill up, there 
is no safe, practical method of storing radioactive waste material. 
Radioactive wastes are highly toxic and, once released into the envi- 
ronment, will contaminate land and water virtually "forever." 

• A nuclear accident could release enough radiation to kill thousands of 
people and contaminate cities, land, and water for decades. Commu- 
nities near nuclear power plants are finding it difficult to plan an 
adequate evacuation. 

• Nations or terrorist groups may use nuclear waste products to make 
nuclear weapons. 


• The many potential dangers related to nuclear power were summarized 
dramatically by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Hannes Alfven in the 
early 1970s: 

Fission energy is safe only if a number of critical devices work as 
they should, if a number of people in key positions follow all of 
their instructions, if there is no sabotage, no hijacking of trans- 
ports, if no reactor fuel processing plant or waste repository 
anywhere in the world is situated in a region of riots or guerrilla 
activity, and no revolution or war — even a "conventional" one — 
takes place in these regions. ...No acts of God can be permitted. 4 ' 

After the horrific terrorist attacks that destroyed the twin towers of the 
World Trade Center, Tom Clements, head of the Nuclear Control Institute 
in Washington, D.C., stated that nuclear power plants are vulnerable to 
terrorists and that attacks on them could cause much more damage than 
was done when the World Trade Center was destroyed. 44 He said: "It's quite 
apparent that the facilities are very difficult to defend. I mean, [terrorists] 
can just go right in, over the fence, take out the guards, and get in." 45 In 
some simulated attacks, security systems proved completely inadequate at 
about half the U.S. reactors tested. 46 

• The guarding of nuclear facilities raises threats to civil liberties. In a 
document prepared for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a Stan- 
ford University law professor states that in light of potential nuclear- 
related theft and terrorism, there may be a need for "a nationwide 
guard force, greater surveillance of dissenting political groups, area 
searches in the event of loss of material, and creation of new barriers 
of secrecy." 47 He also anticipates possible wiretapping, detention, and 
harsh interrogation, perhaps even involving torture. 

• The carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere due to fossil-fuel 
burning contributes to a "greenhouse effect," with all of the negative 
effects on the global climate discussed below in Chapter 10. 


The Dignity of Labor 

Unlike many ancient societies, such as those of Greece and Rome, where 
manual labor was done by slaves, Judaism recognizes the dignity of creative 
labor. Work is considered a character-developing process through which 
an individual earns self-respect and respect from others. 
Many Jewish teachings express great esteem for labor: 48 

A man should love work, and no man should hate work. For even 
as the Sabbath was commanded to the Jews as a covenant at Sinai, 
so was labor enjoined in that covenant, as it is said, "Six days shall 
you labor and do all your work," (and only then it is written) "the 
seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord your God." (Exodus 20:9, 
10) 49 

When a person eats of his own labors, his mind is at ease, but when 
a person eats of the labors of his father or mother or children, his 
mind is not at ease; how much more so when he has to eat of the 
labors of strangers. 30 

Many soft energy methods are labor-intensive. Such enterprises as weath- 
erization of homes to make them more energy efficient, recycling of prod- 
ucts, and construction of equipment for the production and distribution of 
renewable energy all create jobs. According to a study prepared for the 
Energy Subcommittee of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, 
the U.S. can gain millions of jobs by adopting an energy policy based much 
more heavily on solar and other renewable energy sources and conserva- 
tion. 51 

By contrast, hard energy paths are capital-intensive. They require 
sophisticated, expensive equipment, but relatively few workers. Some jobs 
result from construction of pipelines and power stations, but many of them 
are temporary. Long-term jobs in mining and drilling are often dangerous 
to those who do such work. 


Proper Use of God's Cycles of Sun, Wind, and Water 

A major cause of pollution and resource shortages in recent years is our 
inattention to God's cycles of sun, wind, and water. According to energy 
expert Denis Hayes, one of the founders of Earth Day, the U.S. could 
reduce carbon dioxide emissions by eighty percent in our lifetime by 
converting to the most efficient technologies currently available, and by 
switching as much as is practical to solar energy, wind power, biofuels, and 
other renewable sources of energy. 52 At present, solar energy and other 
forms of renewable energy are expensive, but increased research and 
greater use would significantly lower the cost of individual units. Hence, in 
partnership with good conservation practices, the second major element of 
the soft energy path is use of sun, wind, and water, as well as renewable 

According to studies by the Union of Concerned Scientists and 
others, renewable energy could supply twenty percent of U.S. electricity 
needs by 2020. 53 Legislation sponsored by Senators James Jeffords (I-VT) 
and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) in 2000 (but never adopted) attempted to 
ensure that renewable energy development met that target. In a report in 
2000, five national laboratories found that renewable energy sources could 
supply at least 7.5 percent of U.S. electricity by 2010. 54 The study found 
that expanded use of renewable energy sources, along with improvements 
in energy efficiency, could substantially reduce energy costs for consumers. 

There are many "hidden" benefits of renewable energy sources: they 
are generally pollution-free, undepletable, dependable, abundant, decen- 
tralized, safe, job-creating, and inflation-resistant. These factors contrast 
with the many "hidden costs" of hard energy sources: air and water pollu- 
tion; negative health effects; contributions to global climate change; the 
distortion of foreign policy by our dependence on other countries for fuel; 
hazardous nuclear wastes that must be stored for thousands of years; 
balance of payment deficits; potential blackmail from terrorist groups 
producing or acquiring nuclear weapons; disenfranchisement of the poor, 
old, young, and disabled in societies based on automobiles; suburban 
sprawl, paving over farm land and fostering isolation instead of healthy 
community life; and deaths directly and indirectly caused by oil use (acci- 
dents, air and water pollution, and oil wars). 


Some Jewish groups have become involved in campaigns for more 
effective energy policies. At its annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland on 
February 28, 2000, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) adopted 
a resolution on National Energy Policy that calls for Congress and the 
Administration to move toward a clean and sustainable energy system. 53 
Citing concerns about OPEC-induced increases in gasoline prices and 
growing awareness of the dangers of global warming and air pollution, the 
group called for swift action to reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels as part 
of a "Clean and Sustainable Energy System." 56 The JCPA is the forum 
through which 13 national and 122 local Jewish organizations and federa- 
tions develop consensus positions on pressing public policy issues. 

The JCPA resolution concluded: 

We stand at the beginning of a new century. The vast majority of 
scientists and policy experts agree that if dramatic action is not 
taken soon, it is very likely that human well-being and global 
geopolitical stability in the 21st century will be gravely affected by 
global climate change. Aggressive development of environmen- 
tally friendly technologies and products will create U.S. jobs, 
enhance U.S. competitiveness in the global economy, and demon- 
strate U.S. leadership toward a sustainable energy future for the 
entire planet. 

We have a solemn obligation to do whatever we can within 
reason both to prevent harm to current and future generations and 
to preserve the integrity of the creation with which we have been 
entrusted. Not to do so when we have the technological 
capacity — as we do in the case of non-fossil fuel energy and trans- 
portation technologies — is an unforgivable abdication of our 

Therefore, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) calls 
upon Congress and the Administration to move toward the 
creation of a clean and sustainable energy system for the U.S. that 
will diminish U.S. reliance on imported oil and significantly 
reduce greenhouse gas emissions, smog-forming compounds, and 
precursors to acid rain. 57 


In the summer of 2001, under the leadership of the Coalition on the 
Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), over 600 U.S. rabbis representing 
all denominations, and other religious leaders, signed a statement ("Energy 
Conservation and God's Creation: An Open Letter to the President, the 
Congress, and the American People") recommending that religious values 
(such as the ones discussed in this book) should be considered in formu- 
lating energy and global warming-related policies. 38 Their pioneering state- 
ment included the following: 

As heads of major religious communities, we pray that all Ameri- 
cans will reflect carefully and speak clearly from their deepest 
moral and religious convictions about the President's recently 
announced energy plan. 

Far more than rolling blackouts and gasoline price increases 
are at stake: the future of God's creation on earth; the nature and 
durability of our economy; our public health and public lands; the 
environment and quality of life we bequeath our children and 
grandchildren. We are being called to consider national purpose, 
not just policy 

Humankind has a fundamental choice of priorities for its 
future. By depleting energy sources, causing global warming, 
fouling the air with pollution, and poisoning the land with 
radioactive waste, a policy of increased reliance on fossil fuels and 
nuclear power jeopardizes health and well-being for life on Earth. 
On the other hand, by investing in clean technology, renewable 
energy, greater vehicle fuel efficiency and safer power plants we 
help assure sustainability for God's creation and God's justice. 
Energy conservation is intergenerational responsibility. 

We call on all Americans, and particularly our own leaders 
and congregants, to consider carefully these values, which should 
guide our individual energy choices and by which we should judge 
energy policy options. In securing human well-being by preserving 
creation and promoting justice, conservation is a personal and a 
public virtue — a comprehensive moral value — a standard for 
everything we do to assure energy for a wholesome way of life. We 


pray that the wisdom, faith, and solidarity of the American people 
will bring us together — at this critical juncture — to redirect our 
national energy policy toward conservation, efficiency, justice, 
and maximum use of the perennial abundance of clean and renew- 
able energy that our Creator brought into being by proclaiming, 
"Let there be light" (Gen 1:3). 

In summary, our nation and the world can best be served by an energy 
policy based on Jewish values, embodied in the acronym CARE (Conser- 
vation and Renewable Energy). 59 Such a policy would involve turning 
away from sources of energy that have become environmentally destruc- 
tive and extremely costly; adopting simpler technology instead of relying 
on inefficient central electrical generating plants; and decreasing depend- 
ence on large energy companies and foreign governments, which can cut 
off supplies or sharply raise prices. This could help create a simpler, 
healthier world, with more conservation of energy and resources; a safer 
world, with less competition for scarce fuels and other commodities; a 
more stable economy; less unemployment; and more money available for 
education, health, housing, transportation, nutrition, and social services. 
For all these profoundly Jewish reasons, the Jewish community must take a 
leading role in advocating energy policies that will help usher in this safer, 
saner future. 


Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18) 

problem the world will face in the next few decades. There is a 
growing scientific consensus that we are already experiencing the effects of 
global warming, and that human actions are playing a significant role. 1 
Global average temperatures have increased about one degree Fahrenheit 
since 1900. This doesn't sound like much, but it is causing major changes 
in our weather patterns. The warmest decade in recorded history was the 
1990s. The ten warmest years on record have all occurred since 1983, with 
seven of them since 1990. The global temperature in 1998 was the warmest 
in recorded history. 

Until recently, researchers were not fully certain whether human activ- 
ities significantly contributed to this warming, or whether it simply 
reflected natural variations in the earth's climate. However, in the fall of 
1995, scientists affiliated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change (IPCC), a U.N. -sponsored group of leading climate scientists from 
over a hundred nations, concluded that the observed global temperature 
increase during the last century "is unlikely to be entirely natural in origin" 
and that "the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human 
influence on global climate." 2 These conclusions are in their Second 
Assessment Report, a document that received contributions and peer 
review from over 2,500 of the world's leading climate scientists, economists, 
and risk analysis experts. 



In the year 2000, in its Third Assessment Report, the IPCC made two 
momentous revisions in its forecasts of global warming. It estimated that 
by 2100, the average world temperature could rise between 2.5 and 10.4 
degrees Fahrenheit, a range significantly higher than the 1.8 to 6.3 degree 
rise predicted by the IPCC in 1995. 3 Also, the group became far more 
emphatic that it is human activities, rather than natural planetary cycles, 
that are "contributing substantially" to the increase, and they indicated 
that they expect these human contributions to continue to grow. 4 The 
IPCC report, which is over a thousand pages and was written by 123 lead 
authors from many countries who drew on 516 contributing experts, is one 
of the most comprehensive ever produced on global warming. 3 Hence, the 
conclusions of the report represent an unprecedented consensus among 
hundreds of climate scientists from all over the world. This makes their 
summary statement that "Projected climate changes during the 21st 
century have the potential to lead to future large-scale and possibly irre- 
versible changes in Earth systems," with "continental and global conse- 
quences" especially ominous. 6 

The main cause of global warming is the increase in atmospheric 
concentrations of he at- trapping gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, 
nitrous oxides, and chlorofluorocarbons. These gases act as a "greenhouse," 
trapping heat radiated out from the earth. While a certain amount of these 
gases is natural and necessary to retain enough of the sun's energy to 
support life on earth, current excessive amounts will cause the earth's 
temperature to rise abnormally. 

The human activities that climate scientists have linked to the 
increases of these heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere include the 
burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), cattle ranching, defor- 
estation, and rice farming. In 1999, seven environmental groups, including 
the Union of Concerned Scientists, produced a world map showing eighty- 
nine "Global Warming Early Warning Signs." 7 The groups conclude that 
"the earth is heating up." Their ten categories of "early warning signs" 
(along with some of their examples of each) are presented below to help 
illustrate the damage that global climate change has already done, and its 
potential for major future damage: 8 


1. Heat waves and periods of unusually warm weather (frequent and 
severe heat waves lead to increases in heat-related illness and death, espe- 
cially among the ill, the poor, the elderly, and the young). 

• A deadly heat wave in the summer of 1998 claimed over a hundred 
lives in Texas. Temperatures in Dallas were over 100 degrees Fahren- 
heit for fifteen consecutive days. 

• In 1999, New York City had its driest and warmest July in recorded 
history. Temperatures were above 95 degrees Fahrenheit on eleven 
days — the most ever in the city in any single month. 

• In 1998, Cairo, Egypt had its warmest August on record, with a 
temperature of 105.8 degrees Fahrenheit on August 6, 1998. 

2. Spreading disease (warmer temperatures allow disease-transmitting 
mosquitoes to extend their ranges). 

• There was a deadly malaria outbreak in the summer of 1997 in the 
Kenyan highlands, although the area had never previously been 
exposed to the disease. 

• In the Andes mountains of Colombia, disease-carrying mosquitoes 
have appeared at 7,200 feet, although they previously never appeared 
above 3,300 feet. 

• In Mexico, dengue fever has been found at 5,600 feet, far above its 
previous limit of 3,300 feet. 

3. The earlier arrival of spring (this may disrupt animal migrations, alter 
competitive balances among species, and cause additional unforeseen 

• Mirror Lake, New Hampshire has thawed about half a day earlier each 
year for the past thirty years. 

• In the United Kingdom, toads, frogs, and newts are spawning about 
ten days earlier than they were seventeen years ago, and in 1995 about 
one-third of sixty-five bird species studied had moved up the date of 
egg-laying by an average of 8.8 days compared to 1971. 

• In southern England, the four earliest leafing days ever for oak trees 
occurred in the 1990s, in response to increasing temperatures from 
January to March over the past forty-one years. 


4. Plant and animal range shifts and population declines (such shifts, 
caused by warmer temperatures, may hasten extinctions). 

• In Europe, twenty-two of thirty-five butterfly species studied have 
shifted their range northwards by 22 to 150 miles, probably due to a 1.4 
degree Fahrenheit warming in the past century. 

• Adelie penguin populations have declined by thirty-three percent in 
Antarctica in the past twenty-five years, due to shrinking of their 
winter ice habitat caused by ice pack melting. 

• In Monterey Bay, California, invertebrate species such as limpets, 
snails, and sea stars have been shifting northward, probably due to 
warmer air and ocean temperatures. 

5. Sea level rise and coastal flooding (global sea level has risen four to ten 
inches in the past century and may rise an additional half a foot to three 
feet during the next century, causing major losses of coastal areas). 

• In the Chesapeake Bay, the current rate of sea level rise is triple the 
historical rate and appears to be accelerating. About a third of the 
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge marsh has been gradually 
submerged since 1938. 

• In many areas of the world, rising sea levels are having negative effects, 
including saltwater inundation of coastal mangrove forests in 
Bermuda; loss of coastal land at Rufisque on the south coast of Senegal; 
considerable beach loss in Hawaii; and the receding of shoreline by an 
average of half a foot per year in Fiji and over a foot and a half per year 
in Western Samoa for at least ninety years. 

6. Coral reef bleaching (reefs in or near thirty-two countries experienced 
major bleaching in 1997—98, and continued bleaching due to warmer sea 
temperatures and other factors could have a major negative impact on 
aquatic life). 

Global warming is the most serious of the threats facing reefs, since 
rising water temperatures cause the coral to expel microscopic organisms 
that are crucial to their health, a phenomenon known as coral bleaching. 
Among the many areas where significant bleaching of coral reefs has 
occurred are American Samoa; Papua, New Guinea; the Persian Gulf; the 


Florida Keys and Bahamas; Australia's Great Barrier Reef; and the Philip- 

7. Melting of glaciers (over the past 150 years, the majority of monitored 
mountain glaciers have been shrinking, with many at low altitudes disap- 
pearing; continued shrinkage could disrupt an important source of water). 

• At current rates of glacial retreat, all the glaciers in Glacier National 
Park, Montana will be gone by 2070. 

• Other examples of glacial retreat include a fifty percent reduction in 
Spain since 1980; a twenty-five percent reduction on China's Tien 
Shen Mountains over the past forty years; and, in the past century, a 
fifty percent reduction in the glaciers of the Caucasus Mountains of 
Russia and a ninety-two percent melting of Kenya's Lewis Glacier. 

8. Arctic and Antarctic warming (as parts of Canada, Alaska, Siberia, and 
Antarctica have been experiencing warming well above the global average 
for the past few decades, melting permafrost requires the reconstruction of 
buildings, roads, and airports, and is increasing soil erosion and the 
frequency of landslides). 

• The ground has subsided from sixteen to thirty-three feet in parts of 
interior Alaska due to permafrost thawing. 

• Nearly 1,150 square miles of the Larson B and Wilkins ice shelves in 
Antarctica collapsed between March 1998 and March 1999, after four 
hundred years of relative stability. 

• The area covered by sea ice has shrunk by about five percent in the 
Bering Sea over the past forty years and by six percent in the Arctic 
Ocean from 1978 to 1995. 

9. Downpours, heavy snowfalls, and flooding (heavy rainfall and other 
types of storms have been occurring more frequently, substantially 
increasing damage from storms. U.S. insurance companies have become 
strong advocates of efforts to reduce global warming because of major 
insurance claims resulting from recent severe storms and flooding. At the 
international climate change summit in the Hague in 2000, Dr. Andrew 
Dlugolecki, Director of General Insurance Development of CGNU, the 


world's sixth largest insurance company, told delegates that the rate of 
damage caused by changing weather is increasing at about ten percent per 
year, and losses related to global climate change could exceed the world's 
wealth and bankrupt the global economy by 2065 ). 9 

• Korea experienced severe flooding during July and August 1998, with 
rainfall on some days exceeding ten inches. 

• New England experienced double the normal amount of rain in June, 
1998, with a 117-year-old record broken in Boston on June 13—14- 

• New South Wales, Australia had its wettest August on record in 1998. 
A storm dumped twelve inches of rain on Sydney on August 15—17, 
while only four inches of rain normally falls there during the entire 

10. Droughts and fires (as temperatures increase, droughts have become 
more frequent and severe in many areas). 

• Mexico experienced its worse fire season ever in 1998, with 1.25 
million acres burned during a severe drought. Smoke from the fires 
caused a statewide health alert in Texas. 

• In 1999, several states in the Eastern U.S. had the driest growing 
season in 105 years, with fifteen states declared agriculture disaster 
areas. In West Virginia alone, losses exceeded $80 million. 

These are just a small sampling of recent events with possible connec- 
tions to global warming. While no single event offers conclusive proof that 
global warming is occurring, the sum total of so many cases, along with the 
overall global temperature increases, has led a vast majority of climate 
scientists to agree on the reality of global warming. And there are news 
reports of additional examples almost weekly. For example: 

• A study appearing in the September 2000 journal Science concludes 
that twenty-six bodies of water in the Northern Hemisphere are 
freezing an average of 8.7 days later and thawing 9.8 days earlier than 
they did 150 years ago. 

• According to scientists assembled in Indonesia at a major coral reef 
conference, more than twenty-five percent of the world's coral reefs 


have been destroyed by global warming, pollution, and destructive 
fishing techniques. Most of the rest could be lost in the next twenty 
years if serious action isn't taken to address these problems. 10 Up to 
ninety percent of coral reefs have been killed around the Maldives and 
Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. 11 Loss of the world's reefs 
would be a major blow not only to the environment and biodiversity, 
but also to the 500 million people around the world who depend on 
coral reef systems for part of their food or livelihood. 

• Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, suggested that global warming is 
contributing to the country's disastrous weather when heavy rains 
brought the most widespread flooding Britain has seen in fifty years in 
October and November of 2000. n Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott 
stated that the storms should serve as a "wake-up call for everyone" 
about the impact of global warming. "Meanwhile, the first comprehen- 
sive scientific assessment of the effects of climate change in Europe 
predicted more flooding in northern European countries such as 
Britain, and more heat and drought in southern European countries. 14 

Responses to Global Warming 

How should the world respond to the threat of global climate change? In 
part by applying the Jewish teachings analyzed in previous chapters, 

• Bed tashchit (you shall not waste): Conserving energy and increasing 
the efficiency of energy use would reduce the emission of greenhouse 

• "The earth is the Lord's": Judaism mandates a sacred obligation to 
protect the integrity of ecological systems so that their diverse 
constituent species, including humans, can thrive. 

• The sanctity of every life: The agricultural, transportation, and energy 
approaches that minimize emission of greenhouse gases reduce the 
threats to human life discussed above, now and for future generations. 

• Consideration of the lives and needs of future generations: Rapid 
climate change threatens the very existence of future generations. 


Conservation and renewable energy thus help insure that human life 
will continue. 

• "Justice, justice shall you pursue": Actions to address climate change 
should also protect those most vulnerable to climate change, including 
poor people, those living in coastal areas, and subsistence farmers. 
Along with reducing global warming by weaning ourselves off of 
depletable and polluting energy sources, it is important to aid the poor 
in acquiring heat and transportation and to assist dislocated energy 
workers and others affected by the changes. 

• Proper use of God's cycles of sun, wind, and water: Use of solar, wind, 
and other renewal forms of energy reduces emission of greenhouse 

Several Jewish groups, including the Coalition on the Environment 
and Jewish Life (COEJL) 15 and its parent body, the Jewish Council for 
Public Affairs (JCPA), the national coordinating organization for the 13 
national and 125 local Jewish community relations agencies, have been 
urging their members to contact elected officials to stress the harmful 
effects of global climate change, and to urge them to support effective 
remedies. These groups support the position that industrial nations' emis- 
sions should be decreased below 1990 levels by 2010. They also propose 
that the U.S. and other industrialized countries take the leadership role, as 
we are primarily responsible for the problem. However, they also recom- 
mend that developing nations — whose emissions, while still far below 
these of industrialized countries per capita, are sharply rising — should like- 
wise be required by treaties to commit to emission reductions. 

On October 27, 1997, the JCPA unanimously adopted a comprehen- 
sive statement based on Jewish values and teachings, "Confronting the 
Challenge of Climate Change". 16 It includes the following: 

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs urges the Jewish community, 
and all other Americans, to conduct energy audits of, and institute 
energy efficiency technologies and practices into, private homes 
and communal facilities, including synagogues, schools, commu- 
nity centers, and commercial buildings 


Furthermore, we call on JCPA member agencies to initiate 
dialogues with Jewish businesspeople and the broader business 
community aimed at increasing responsible participation by busi- 
ness in addressing global climate change 

Together, the people of the world can, and must, use our God- 
given gifts to develop innovative strategies to meet the needs of all 
who currently dwell on this planet without compromising the 
ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

Consistent with Jewish teachings, the JCPA statement also urged the 
following policies: 

• The U.S. government should negotiate, and the U.S. Senate should 
ratify, binding international agreements to minimize climate change 
by committing the world's nations to reducing their current and 
projected emissions in order to stabilize atmospheric carbon concen- 
trations so that they will not result in widespread human and/or 
ecological harm. 

• Congress should appropriate the funds necessary to fulfill our nation's 
responsibility to reduce global carbon emissions, as "an important 
down payment on what will be needed to achieve safe atmospheric 
carbon levels in the long run." 

• The federal government should immediately adopt policies to reduce 
greenhouse gas emissions, particularly programs which employ 
economic incentives to lower demand for fossil fuels, in order to 
encourage the development of non-polluting energy sources and to 
raise revenue for public projects, such as mass transit, that would lower 
carbon emissions. 

• The government should also adopt standards, such as power plant 
emissions standards and motor vehicle fuel efficiency (so-called 
CAFE) standards, that require the use of the best fuel-efficiency and 
emissions-reduction technologies available. 


The important, comprehensive statement on energy signed by over six 
hundred U.S. rabbis and other religious leaders that was discussed in the 
last chapter also included a statement on global warming: 

These concerns have entirely unprecedented moral urgency in the 
twenty-first century. In its reliance on fossil fuels, American 

energy policy is a cause of global climate change We must join 

in binding international agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol, 
which set energy conservation targets and timetables. Preventing 
climate change is a preeminent expression of faithfulness to our 
Creator, God. Energy conservation is global leadership and soli- 
darity. 17 

Unfortunately, instead of responding to the global warming problem, in 
2001 U.S. President George W. Bush chose not to act. First, he reversed his 
campaign promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, 
the biggest U.S. contributor to global warming. Defending his decision, 
Bush insisted that "an energy crisis" threatening the country's economic 
health had caused him to back away from his pledge. Next, the President 
decided to withdraw U.S. support from the Kyoto Protocol, an interna- 
tional global warming treaty, claiming that it placed an unfair burden on 
the United States, even though the U.S., with only about four percent of 
the world's population, is responsible for twenty-five percent of gases that 
contribute to global warming. IPCC Chair Robert Watson argues that the 
U.S. should be doing far more: "A country like China has done more, in 
my opinion, than a country like the United States to move forward in 
economic development while remaining environmentally sensitive." 18 
According to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the Bush 
administration's energy plan, which calls for the creation of two thousand 
new electrical generating plants in the next six years, would increase the 
greenhouse gas emissions that spur global warming by fourteen to thirty- 
eight percent by 2007. 19 

Reduction of fossil fuel emissions would improve, not hinder, our 
economy, since such reductions could be based on strategies such as 
improving energy efficiency, changing to renewable energy sources, 


improving mass transit, preserving and planting forests, and encouraging 
people to shift to plant-based diets. These approaches have the added bene- 
fits of reducing air and water pollution, creating jobs, and reducing expen- 
ditures for energy. Contrary to a common perception that reducing global 
warming will have major negative economic effects, a properly financed, 
public-private global transition to high-efficiency and renewable energy 
technologies could produce an unprecedented worldwide economic boom 
involving the creation of millions of new jobs, a reversal of the widening 
economic gap between people living in the northern and southern hemi- 
spheres, the raising of living standards in developing nations (without 
compromising the economic achievements of industrial nations), and the 
establishment of the renewable energy industry as a central driving engine 
of growth of the global economy. 20 The technology and knowledge are 
already available; all that is needed is vision and dedicated efforts to 
promote the proper policies. 

Jews should play a leading role in the efforts to reduce global climate 
change, in order to fulfill the mandate that we should be co-workers with 
God in preserving the world, and to illustrate how Jewish values can have 
a major impact on the solution of global problems. 


For the Jewish people, the problem [of the population bomb] does not 
exist. On the contrary, it would be more accurate to describe our situa- 
tion as a "Population Bust" ... which spells demographic disaster for 
Jewry. ("Jewish Population: Renascence or Oblivion" — a report of 
the N.Y. Jewish Federation) 1 

ness of the world population problem. However, there is also widespread 
concern in the Jewish community about the effects of reduced Jewish 
population and assimilation. 2 

Rapid Population Growth 

Explosive population growth, a critical world issue, is largely the result of 
an increase in life expectancies, due to improved standards of living and 
advances in sanitation and medical technology. 3 There is now widespread 
concern about the world's ability to provide enough food, energy, housing, 
employment, education, and health care for the rapidly increasing global 
population while simultaneously protecting our environment, quality of 
life, and political freedom. While, as indicated in Chapter 6, rapid popula- 
tion growth is more a result of poverty and injustice than their cause, it is 
still a serious issue that needs to be addressed. 

While it took until about 1830 for the world's population to reach one 
billion people, now the human population is growing by approximately 
one billion people every twelve years. According to the Population Refer- 
ence Bureau's 2001 "World Population Data Sheet," world population in 



mid-2001 was 6.137 billion people. It is projected to reach 7.818 billion by 
2025 and 9.036 billion by 2050. 4 These figures assume a slowing of present 
population growth rates; if current rates of population growth continued, 
the world population would double in only fifty-four years. 3 There is 
currently a world population increase of almost eighty million people each 
year. 6 At this rate, the world population increases more than the entire 
present population of the United States every four years! 7 It increases as 
much every three days as it did in an entire century for most of the 
centuries that humans have been on Earth. 8 

Many poor countries, such as Somalia, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, 
have population-doubling periods of less than twenty-five years. 9 This 
means that in order to maintain present, generally inadequate conditions, 
these countries must more than double their supply of food, energy, clean 
water, housing, schools, and jobs each quarter century. Since this is 
extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many countries, the result will 
almost surely be increasing poverty, malnutrition, and civil unrest. 

Additional population problems are created by the growing movement 
of people from rural areas to cities, searching for better jobs and social 
conditions. The very rapid increases in urban populations can be seen from 
the following: while the world's three largest cities in 1960 were New York 
(14-2 million), Tokyo (11.0 million), and London (9.1 million), by 2015, 
the three largest cities are expected to be Tokyo (28.9 million), Mumbai 
(formerly Bombay), India (26.2 million), and Lagos, Nigeria (24-6 
million). 10 Many cities of the developing world have been unable to meet 
the needs of their rapidly growing populations. People living on the 
sprawling outskirts of many of these cities have inadequate housing, sani- 
tation, employment, and education; hence there is vast human suffering 
and great potential for social unrest. 

Rapid population growth is not only a problem for poorer countries. 
The U.S. population is projected to more than double from 281 million 
people in 2000 to 571 million in the next century, largely as a result of 
immigration. 11 Considering the very high average standard of living in the 
U.S. and the many environmental problems created by the present popu- 
lation, this projection has very severe implications for air and water pollu- 
tion, climate change, deforestation, soil erosion, and the availability of 


sufficient oil, water, and other resources. There may be food shortages in 
the United States, and in countries dependent on food imports from the 
U.S., because arable land is expected to shrink from 400 million acres 
today to 290 million by 2050. 12 

Even without the expected continued sharp increase in population, an 
estimated twenty million people now die each year from hunger and its 
effects, and over seven million infants died in 2000 before their first 
birthday." Meanwhile, environmental dangers and degradations increase 

The 1992 Union of Concerned Scientists' "World Scientists' Warning 
to Humanity" proclaims: "Pressures resulting from unrestrained population 
growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts 
to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our envi- 
ronment, we must accept limits to that growth." 14 While there has been 
some recent progress in slowing the rate of population increase, the 
following factors contribute to population growth momentum: 

• While birth rates have actually dropped recently in most countries of 
the world, death rates have decreased even more sharply, due to better 
medical and sanitary conditions, and are likely to continue to decline. 

• The largest population increases are occurring in poor countries, 
where children are desired for economic reasons. 13 Even while 
advances have reduced the level of poverty in developing societies, the 
absolute number of destitute people is increasing. 

• Thirty-three percent of people in poorer countries are under fifteen 
years of age. 16 These young people will soon be moving into their repro- 
ductive years. 

Many people believe that rapid population growth is the greatest 
problem currently facing the world. They emphasize correlations between 
population increases and hunger, resource depletion, pollution, and other 
problems. One group, "Zero Population Growth" (ZPG) 17 , argues that only 
with a stabilized population will the world's people be able to have clean 
air and water, a decent place to live, a meaningful job, and a good educa- 
tion. They have been working to publicize problems caused by population 


growth and to advocate for reducing U.S. births and the rate of immigra- 
tion to the U.S. They encourage couples to voluntarily limit their repro- 
duction to a maximum of two children. Another group, "Negative Popu- 
lation Growth," argues that we have already passed the optimum U.S. 
population and must soon decrease our population. 18 They also advocate 
restrictions on immigration and reductions in birth rates. 

Jewish Teachings Concerning Population 

How should Jews respond to arguments of advocates of reduced family size? 
The first mitzvah of the Torah is the duty of procreation. On the sixth day 
of creation, God created human beings, male and female, and blessed them 
and commanded them: 

Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; 
and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the 
air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. 
(Genesis 1:28) 

Later, after the Flood, this mandate was repeated to Noah: "Be fruitful and 
multiply, and replenish the earth" (Genesis 9:1). 

The blessing of fertility was extended to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 
17:16). Through Isaac, Abraham was to be blessed with seed as numerous 
as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore (Genesis 15:5). This 
blessing was repeated to Jacob, in the early years of his life (Genesis 28:14) 
and also later (Genesis 35:11). The principal blessing that Torah person- 
alities conferred on their children and grandchildren was that of fertility. 
This was true of Isaac's blessing to Jacob (Genesis 28:3), Jacob's blessing to 
Manasseh and Ephraim (his grandchildren) (Genesis 48:16), and Jacob's 
blessing to Joseph (Genesis 49:25). 

The following is one of many Talmudic passages that stress the impor- 
tance of having children: 

Rabbi Eliezer stated: "He who does not engage in the propagation 
of the race is as though he sheds blood; for it is said, 'whoever sheds 
man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed,' and this is immedi- 


ately followed by the text, 'And you, be you fruitful and multiply.' " 
Rabbi Jacob said: "[One who does not propagate], it is as though 
he has diminished the Divine image; since it is said, 'For in the 
image of God He made man,' and this is immediately followed by, 
'And you be fruitful.' " Ben Azzai said: "It is as though he sheds 
blood and diminishes the Divine image, since it is said, 'And you, 
be you fruitful and multiply.' "" 

Every human life is sacred and every new life brings God's image anew into 
the world. Hence Judaism has always regarded marriage and procreation as 
sacred duties and divine imperatives. People are to populate the earth, for 
the world that God created is "very good" and people should follow God's 
commandment to be fruitful and multiply "with the intention of 
preserving the human species." 20 

Judaism is never content with general formulations. It always provides 
specific indications of how commandments are to be carried out. Hence 
the Mishnah considered the question of how large a family one needs in 
order to satisfy the injunction to have children: 

A married man shall not abstain from the performance of the duty 
of propagation of the race unless he already has children. As to the 
number, Beit Shammai (the school of Shammai) ruled: two males, 
and Beit Hillel ruled: a male and female, for it is stated in scripture, 
male and female He created them. 21 

According to the Talmud, for Beit Shammai, the model for the sufficiency 
of two sons was Moses, since he had two sons. 22 The disciples of Hillel base 
their opinion on the story of creation (Adam and Eve). The prevailing 
halachic opinion agrees with Beit Hillel. Although the rabbis considered 
it meritorious for Jews to have large families, they looked at birth control 
more favorably after a couple had a son and a daughter. 23 However, rabbis 
generally encouraged couples not to limit themselves to two children. This 
is consistent with Maimonides' injunction: 


Even if a person has fulfilled the commandment of "be fruitful and 
multiply," he is still enjoined not to refrain from fruitfulness and 
increase as long as he is able, for he who adds a life in Israel [is as 
he who created a world]. 24 

The Jewish tradition teaches that those who have no biological children 
can give "birth" in other ways. For example, the Talmud states that if 
someone teaches Torah to his friend's child, "it is as if he gave birth to 
him," 25 as it is written: "These are the offspring of Aaron and Moses..." 
(Numbers 3:1). The Talmud points out that the verses that follow only list 
the sons of Aaron, yet the Torah calls them the "offspring" of both Moses 
and Aaron! This is because Moses taught them Torah, and through his 
teaching, states the Talmud, he became their spiritual parent. 

Another example is the following Talmudic statement: "Whoever 
teaches his friend's child Torah, it is as if he made him, as it is written 
(concerning the disciples of Abraham and Sarah): 'the souls they made in 
Haran' (Genesis 12:5). " 26 In Haran, Abraham and Sarah served as teachers 
and guides to the spiritually-searching men and women of their generation 
and brought them to God and the Abrahamic tradition. Rashi, in his 
commentary on the words, "the souls they made," says that they brought 
people "under the wings of the Shechinah — the Divine Presence." Their 
teachings gave new life to these searching souls, and from the perspective 
of the Torah, these are "the souls they made in Haran." 

Current Jewish Population Issues 

Probably the most detailed study of recent Jewish population statistics is 
"Prospecting the Jewish Future: Population Projections, 2000-2080, " 27 a 
study conducted for the American Jewish Committee. The report provides 
the following facts about current Jewish population and population trends: 

• While Jewish population has grown in the past fifty-five years, it has 
not replaced the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holo- 
caust. 28 


Annual average population growth rates for world Jewry were 0.18 
percent in the 1970s, 0.04 percent in the 1980s, and 0.22 percent in 
the 1990s — hence close to zero population growth. 29 
An important demographic factor is the rapid increase of intermar- 
riages between Jews and non-Jews in Diaspora communities, especially 
since the 1960s, and the failure of most of these couples' children to 
identify themselves as Jews. 30 While marriages across religious lines 
occur rarely in Israel, fifty percent of marriages in the United States 
involving Jews join Jews with a non-Jewish mate. In other Diaspora 
communities, it is about seventy percent in Russia and the Ukraine, 
fifty percent in France, forty percent in the United Kingdom, and 
above thirty percent in Canada and Australia." A majority of Jews in 
the United States are indifferent to Judaism and/or lack knowledge of 
basic Jewish teachings. 32 

The Diaspora Jewish community decreased from 10.4 million people 
in 1945 to 10.2 million in 1960, to an estimated 8.3 million in 2000. 33 
Meanwhile, Israel's Jewish population increased from about half a 
million people in 1945 to almost 4-9 million in 2000. 34 
Fertility rates (average number of children per woman during child- 
bearing years) in Diaspora communities vary from 0.9 to 1.7 children, 
far below the replacement fertility level of 2.1 children that replaces 
the parents and thus keeps the population constant. By contrast, the 
Jewish fertility rate in Israel is 2.6, well above the replacement fertility 
level. 35 

The world Jewish population is projected to increase from 13.1 million 
in 2000 to 13.8 million by 2020, 14 million by the beginning of the 
2030s, and 15 million around the year 2080, producing about a seven- 
teen percent increase for the entire period. 36 This increase masks very 
different trends in Israel and the Diaspora. In Israel, the Jewish popu- 
lation is projected to increase from 4.9 million in 2000 to over 10 
million in 2080, more than doubling. 37 By contrast, the Diaspora 
Jewish community is projected to decrease from 8.3 million in 2000 to 
5.2 million in 2080. 38 Because of these trends, it is projected that more 
Jews will live in Israel than in any other country by 2020, and an 
absolute majority of the Jewish population will live there by 2050. 39 


(The seventeen percent increase in the world's Jewish population 
mentioned above is far smaller than the population growth rate 
projected for the world, meaning that the percentage of the world's 
people who are Jews will continue to sharply decrease.) 

Based on these facts, many Jews believe that one of the critical chal- 
lenges today is the issue of Jewish survival in the Diaspora. They argue that 
the low Jewish birth rate, along with high rates of intermarriage and assim- 
ilation, poses a grave danger to the Jewish people. 

This is the central thesis of a reference work: Jewish Population: 
Renascence or Oblivion, edited by Judith Zimmerman and Barbara Trainin, 
which is a record of the proceedings of a conference on Jewish population 
in 1978, sponsored by the Commission on Synagogue Relations of the 
Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York. In her introduction 
Judith Zimmerman, chairperson of the Federation's task force on Jewish 
population, outlines the twofold purpose of the conference (and of the 
report): (1) To sound an alarm and alert the Jewish community that the 
Jewish population is declining. We are practicing negative population 
growth, i.e., we are not even replacing our present numbers. This phenom- 
enon, coupled with increased assimilation and mixed marriages, threatens 
Jewish survival. (2) To determine whether the Jewish community can, in 
the words of Dr. Steven M. Cohen (who presented a paper at the confer- 
ence), "effectively intervene to minimize population losses." 40 

A Time magazine article, "The Disappearing Jews," reports that 
Orthodox Rabbi Norman Lamm — president of Yeshiva University — 
recommends that "each Jewish couple should have four or five children 
because Jews are a disappearing species." Rabbi Lamm calls for immediate 
"bold and courageous action" by Jewish educators and community leaders 
to reverse a situation that "borders on the catastrophic." 41 He suggests steps 
to increase the Jewish birth rate, such as local federations providing schol- 
arship money for children from large Jewish families to attend Jewish 
schools, and instructing our children as young as nursery-school age in the 
concept that large families should be the norm. 

In June 1977, the Reform Movement's Central Conference of Amer- 
ican Rabbis, a group that generally adopts liberal stances, urged Jewish 


couples "to have at least two or three children." 42 Rabbi Sol Roth, former 
president of the New York Board of Rabbis, suggests that "Jewish families 
should have at least three children, and the goal of zero population growth 
should find no application in the Jewish community." 43 

Jews have responded to arguments by advocates of zero population 
growth in several ways: 

• Since Jews constitute less than one-tenth of one percent of the world's 
population, the Jewish contribution to world population growth 
cannot matter significantly. 

• Since six million Jews — one-third of the Jewish people — were killed in 
the Holocaust, Jews have a special obligation to bring children into 
the world to replace their numbers. 

• Jews have made special contributions to the world, far beyond their 
very small proportion of the world's population, in areas such as 
science, the arts, education, business, and politics. Hence increasing 
the number of Jewish children might well increase the general level of 
accomplishment in the world. It is also important that Judaism survive 
because the world badly needs the Jewish messages of peace, justice, 
and righteousness. 

Rabbi David M. Feldman argues that "Jews have the paradoxical right 
to work for the cause of population control while regarding themselves as 
an exception to the rule." 44 

Some advocates of maintaining or increasing the Jewish population 
have attacked the premises of the zero population growth movement. 
There is much merit in their argument, since, as discussed, rapid popula- 
tion growth, while a very serious concern, is not the prime cause of the 
world's problems. But these critics have often ignored the facts that 
millions are dying annually due to hunger and its effects, that half the 
world's people suffer from poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, and disease, and 
that the world's ecosystems are being increasingly threatened. They also 
put great faith in technology as a solution to global problems, not taking 
into account that many of today's problems have been caused or worsened 
by the misuse of technology over many years. 


It should be pointed out that there are many encouraging signs for 
future Jewish survival and security: 45 

• Some segments of Judaism, such as the fervently Orthodox and Chas- 
sidim, are growing in numbers; they tend to have high fertility rates, 
little or no intermarriage, and relatively little assimilation or defection 
from Judaism. The fact that these groups are often underrepresented in 
surveys throws some doubt on the estimates of Jewish population 
trends previously discussed. These groups may be replenishing Jewish 
population, matching losses among the rest of the Jewish population. 
This possibility is supported by the fact that in Israel, ten percent of 
the families produce forty percent of the children. 46 

• There has been a tremendous increase in the number of Jewish day 

schools in the United States. There was record enrollment in 2000, 
with 185,000 students enrolled in about 670 Jewish day schools. 47 
Eighty percent of day school students are enrolled in Orthodox 
schools. 48 But non-Orthodox schools have been experiencing rapid 
growth as well, with an increase in registration of about twenty percent 
in the 1990s. 49 

• The many yeshivas for high school and college students make the U.S. 
a potential new center of Talmudic learning. There are currently more 
yeshivas and yeshiva students in Israel than in any time or place in 
Jewish history. 

• There are many ba'alei and ba'alot teshuvah (returnees to traditional 
Jewish observance) in the U.S., Israel, and the rest of the world. These 
people generally bring a renewed dedication and involvement to 

• There has been evidence of renewed Jewish commitment among 
Reform Jews, a large number of whom assimilated in previous genera- 
tions. New Reform prayerbooks contain more Hebrew and increas- 
ingly engage concepts such as mitzvot. In recent decades, the Reform 
movement has affirmed Jewish peoplehood, encouraged aliyah 
(moving to Israel), and asserted that Jews have a stake and responsi- 
bility in building the state of Israel. 


• Jewish programs on college campuses have been developing rapidly. 
Many young Jews are having serious encounters with Judaism on 
college campuses. 

• Thousands of scholars are researching Yiddishkeit (Jewish tradition). 
Hebrew literature and Jewish scholarship are flourishing in Israel. 

Thus in many ways, as a counter to the assimilation of many Jews, 
there has been a marked improvement in the quality and intensity of 
Jewish life in the last generation. 

It should be pointed out that there have been many false prophecies of 
Jewish disappearance in the past. The late Professor Simon Rawidowicz 
pointed out that Jews are "the ever-dying people," with each generation 
since early in Jewish history believing that it might be the last one. 50 It is 
interesting to note that each of the patriarchs Abraham and Isaac had two 
children with his matriarchal wife, and in each case one of them 
(Abraham's son Ishmael and Isaac's son Esau) left the faith. But in spite of 
Judaism's strong emphasis on procreation, there are justifications in Jewish 
sacred writings for some aspects of the zero population growth philosophy: 

• While in Egypt, Joseph had two sons during the seven years of plenty, 
but no additional children during the seven years of famine. The 
renowned Biblical commentator Rashi interprets this to mean that 
when there is widespread hunger, one should not bring additional chil- 
dren into the world. 51 

• According to the Talmud, Noah was commanded to desist from 
procreation on the ark, since it contained only enough provisions for 
those who entered the ark. 

• It can be argued that when Adam and later Noah were commanded to 
"Be fruitful and multiply," the earth was far emptier than it is today. 
Now that the earth is "overfilled," as indicated by the poverty, malnu- 
trition, and squalor faced by so many of the world's people, perhaps 
Jewish tradition should come to a new understanding of this 


There would thus seem to be some rationale for Jews to advocate some 
version of zero population growth. But we should look more deeply into 
the problem. Are current crises due primarily to too many people or are 
there other, more important causes? 

Perhaps what the world needs today is not zero population growth 
(ZPG), but zero population-impact growth (ZPIG). S2 For it is not just the 
number of people that is important, but how much they produce, consume, 
and waste. The impact that affluent nations have on the environment is 
extremely disproportionate to their populations. The United States, with 
about 4.5 percent of the world's population, consumes thirty percent of the 
world's natural resource base, using twenty percent of the planet's metals, 
twenty-four percent of its energy (the highest per capita consumption in 
the world), and twenty-five percent of its fossil fuels. 5 ' It has been esti- 
mated that an average American has fifty times the impact of an average 
person in poorer countries, based on resources used and pollution caused. 
This means that the U.S. 2000 population of 281 million people 54 has an 
impact on ecosystems equal to over fourteen billion people in the devel- 
oping world, or over twice the world's 2000 population of about six billion 

Most people connect widespread hunger and resource scarcities to 
overpopulation. Yet numerous studies have concluded that there is enough 
food to feed all the world's people adequately: the problem lies in waste, 
injustice, and inequitable distribution. 53 For example, over seventy percent 
of U.S. -produced grain goes to feed the almost ten billion animals destined 
for slaughter in the U.S. each year, and two- thirds of U.S. grain exports are 
used for animal feed, while at least a billion of the world's people lack 
enough food. 

Poverty, injustice, and inequality also contribute to continued popula- 
tion growth. The poorer countries do not provide unemployment benefits, 
sick leave, or retirement pensions. Hence, children become the only form 
of security in periods of unemployment, illness, and old age. They are also 
regarded as economic assets, since by the age of seven or eight, children are 
net contributors to their families — fetching water and firewood from 
distant places, looking after younger children, cooking and cleaning, thus 
freeing adults for other jobs. Furthermore, infant death rates are still rela- 


tively high in the underdeveloped world, so that parents desire many chil- 
dren in order to insure that some will survive to provide security in their 
old age. 

Because of these conditions, family planning programs by themselves 
are ineffective in lowering birth rates. It is necessary to improve economic 
and social conditions so that people will not feel the need for more chil- 
dren to provide economic survival and old-age security. With an improved 
economic outlook, people start to limit the size of their families, as has 
occurred in the United States and in the more affluent countries of Europe. 
However, unless the world changes its present unjust and inequitable 
social, political, and economic conditions, population will continue to 
grow rapidly, along with global hunger, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, 
and violence. 

There need be no inconsistency between Jewish survival and global 
survival in the area of population growth. A Jew can have a large family 
and still help reduce famine and poverty in the world by working for 
conservation and justice. A family of five that has an impact (in terms of 
consumption and pollution) equal to that of five or ten families in India or 
another poor country does far less harm (in using resources and causing 
environmental damage) than a family of three with an impact equal to fifty 
Indians per person. 

A Jew who has few or no children can work for Jewish survival by 
striving to increase Jewish commitment through example, teaching, and 
writing. Judaism teaches that our good deeds can be our "main offspring." 56 
The Torah states: "These are the offspring of Noah: Noah was a righteous 
man..." (Genesis 6:9). The verse begins to introduce the offspring of Noah, 
and before it mentions the names of his children, it tells us that he was 
righteous. The classical biblical commentator Rashi states that this 
teaches us that Noah's most important offspring were his "good deeds," and 
he cites Midrash Tanchuma, which states: "The main offspring of righteous 
people are their good deeds." 

The Jewish community should help provide support to those Jews who 
wish to have large families by: 


• Providing Jewish day-care facilities (these can be also used to educate 
and provide a social and psychological support system for Jewish chil- 

• Providing child care during synagogue services, in Jewish centers, and 
during other Jewish organizational activities, to make it easier for 
young parents to be involved in Jewish and general community activ- 

• Providing scholarship help for larger families in Jewish schools; 

• Changing the dues structures of synagogues and Jewish centers so that 
they do not penalize large families. 57 

There are additional ways that the Jewish community can work for 
Jewish survival besides exhorting Jews to have large families: 

• Providing programs to make Judaism more challenging and exciting. 
For example, involvement in some of the issues discussed in this book 
might entice alienated Jews to return to Judaism and thereby reduce 
assimilation and intermarriage. 

• Improving Jewish education and lowering tuition rates at Jewish 
schools so that more children can attend. 

• Applying "physical fitness for Jewish survival" by teaching Jews the 
benefits of nutritious meals, proper exercise, and avoidance of alcohol 
and drug abuse and tobacco. 

Ways in which Jews can work for better global conditions that would 
eventually lead to reduced population growth rates are discussed in 
"Action Ideas" in the Appendix. 

Jews can and should work for both Jewish and global survival and can 
play a major role in addressing current critical population issues. While 
reaffirming that every human life is sacred and that every birth brings 
God's image anew into the world, we should support family planning 
programs consistent with Jewish teachings and other cultures and religious 
beliefs. We should strive to make people aware that rapid population 
growth is more a result of global problems than their root cause. 


While helping Jews who wish to have large families, the Jewish 
community should strive to create a more meaningful, dynamic, 
committed Jewish life, and also work for a global society that conserves 
resources, practices justice, seeks peace, and reduces hunger and poverty, 
thereby lessening people's need to have many children. Finally, as we 
battle for justice and a more equitable sharing of the earth's abundant 
resources, which are necessary to improve conditions for all the world's 
people, we should make others aware that this is also the most effective 
way to move the world to a more sustainable population path. 


And God said: "Behold, 1 have given you every herb yielding seed which 
is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding 
fruit — to you it shall be for food." (Genesis 1:29) 

modern life that contradicts many Jewish teachings and harms 
people, communities, and the planet — the mass production and wide- 
spread consumption of meat. It will illustrate how high meat consumption 
and the ways in which meat is produced today conflict with Judaism in at 
least six important areas: 

1. While Judaism mandates that people should take care to preserve 
their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked 
animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, 
and other chronic degenerative diseases. 

2. While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary 
pain on animals, most farm animals — including those raised for kosher 
consumers — are raised on "factory farms," where they live in cramped, 
confined spaces and are often drugged, mutilated, and denied fresh air, 
sunlight, exercise, and any enjoyment of life before they are slaughtered 
and eaten. 

3. While Judaism teaches that "the earth is the Lord's" (Psalm 24:1) 
and that we are to be God's partners and co-workers in preserving the 
world, modern intensive livestock agriculture contributes substantially to 
soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution, overuse of chemical 



fertilizers and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other 
habitats, global warming, and other environmental damage. 

4- While Judaism mandates bal tashchit, that we are not to waste or 
unnecessarily destroy anything of value, and that we are not to use more 
than is needed to accomplish a purpose, animal agriculture requires the 
wasteful use of grain, land, water, energy, and other resources. 

5. While Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our 
bread with hungry people, over seventy percent of the grain grown in the 
United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, while an estimated 
twenty million people worldwide die of hunger and its effects each year. 

6. While Judaism stresses that we must seek and pursue peace and that 
violence results from unjust conditions, animal-centered diets, by wasting 
valuable resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty 
that eventually lead to instability and war. 

In view of these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, 
attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve 
resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, and since animal- 
centered diets violate and contradict each of these responsibilities, 
committed Jews (and others) should sharply reduce or eliminate their 
consumption of animal products. 

One could say "dayenu" (it would be enough) after any of the argu- 
ments above, because each one constitutes by itself a serious conflict 
between Jewish values and current practice that should impel Jews to seri- 
ously consider a plant-based diet. Combined, they make an urgently 
compelling case for the Jewish community to address these issues. 

A Vegetarian View of the Torah 

As the Torah verse at the beginning of this chapter (Genesis 1:29) indi- 
cates, God's initial intention was that people be vegetarians. The foremost 
Jewish Torah commentator, Rashi, states the following about God's first 
dietary plan: "God did not permit Adam and his wife to kill a creature to 
eat its flesh. Only every green herb were they to all eat together." 1 

Most Torah commentators, including Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra, 
Maimonides, Nachmanides, and Rabbi Joseph Albo, agree with Rashi. As 
Rabbi Moses Cassuto states in his commentary From Adam to Noah, 


God told Adam: "You are permitted to use the animals and employ 
them for work, to have dominion over them in order to utilize 
their services for your subsistence, but you must not hold their life 
cheap nor slaughter them for food. Your natural diet is vege- 
tarian...." 2 

These views are consistent with the statement in the Talmud that people 
were initially vegetarians: "Adam was not permitted meat for purposes of 
eating." 5 

The great thirteenth-century Jewish commentator Nachmanides 
indicates that one reason behind this initial human diet is the kinship 
between all sentient beings: 

Living creatures possess a soul and a certain spiritual superiority [to 
non-human creation] which in this respect make them similar to 
the possessors of intellect [human beings] and they have the power 
of affecting their own welfare and their food and they flee from 
pain and death. 4 

God's original dietary plan represents a unique statement in humanity's 
spiritual history. It is a divine blueprint for a vegetarian world order. Yet 
how many millions of people have read this Torah verse (Genesis 1:29) 
and passed it by without considering its meaning? 

After stating that the original humans were to consume a purely vege- 
tarian diet, the Torah indicates that animals were not initially created to 
prey on one another but rather to subsist on purely vegetarian food: 

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and 
to every thing that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is a living 
soul, I have given every green herb for food. (Genesis 1:30) 

Immediately after giving these dietary laws, God saw everything He had 
made and "behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). Everything in the 
universe was as God wanted it, in complete harmony, with nothing super- 


fluous or lacking. 5 The vegetarian diet was a central part of God's initial 

The strongest support for vegetarianism as a positive ideal in Torah 
literature is in the writing of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Ha-Kohen Kook 
(1865-1935). Rav Kook was the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi (Rav) of 
pre-state Israel and a highly respected and beloved Jewish spiritual leader 
and thinker. He was a writer on Jewish mysticism and an outstanding 
scholar of Jewish law. He spoke powerfully on vegetarianism, as recorded 
in A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace (edited by Rav Kook's disciple Rabbi 
David Cohen, "The Nazir of Jerusalem"). 

Rav Kook believed that the permission to eat meat was only a tempo- 
rary concession to the practices of the times, because a God who is merciful 
to His creatures would not institute an everlasting law permitting the 
killing of animals for food. 6 

People are not always ready to live up to God's will. By the time of 
Noah, humanity had morally degenerated. "And God saw the earth, and 
behold it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth" 
(Genesis 6:12). People had morally degenerated to such an extent that 
they would eat a limb torn from a living animal. So, as a concession to 
people's weakness, 7 God granted permission for people to eat meat: "Every 
moving thing that lives shall be food for you; as the green herb have I given 
you all" (Genesis. 9:3). 

According to Rav Kook, because people had descended to such an 
extremely low spiritual level, it was necessary that they be taught to value 
human life above that of animals, and that they concentrate their efforts 
on first working to improve relations between people. He writes that if 
people had been denied the right to eat meat some might have eaten the 
flesh of human beings instead, due to their inability to control their lust for 
flesh. Rav Kook regards the permission to slaughter animals for food as a 
"transitional tax," or temporary dispensation, until a "brighter era" can be 
reached, when people will return to vegetarian diets. 8 

Just prior to granting Noah and his family permission to eat meat, God 


And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast 
of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, and upon all where- 
with the ground teems, and upon all the fish of the sea; into your 
hands are they delivered. (Genesis 9:2) 

Now that there is permission to eat animals, the previous harmony 
between people and animals no longer exists. Rabbi Samson Raphael 
Hirsch argues that the attachment between people and animals was 
broken after the flood, which led to a change in the relationship of people 
to the world. 9 

The permission given to Noah to eat meat is not unconditional. There 
is an immediate prohibition against eating blood: "Only flesh with the life 
thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat" (Genesis 9:4). 
Similar commands are given in Leviticus 19:26, 17:10, and 12 and 
Deuteronomy 12:16, 23, and 25, and 15:23. The Torah identifies blood 
with life: " ... for the blood is the life" (Deuteronomy 12:23). Life must be 
removed from the animal before it can be eaten, and the Talmud details an 
elaborate process for doing so. 

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, animals could only be 
slaughtered and eaten as part of the sacrificial service in the sanctuary 
(Leviticus 17:3—5). The eating of "unconsecrated meat," meat from 
animals slaughtered for private consumption, was not permitted. All meat 
which was permitted to be eaten had to be an integral part of a sacrificial 
rite. Maimonides states that the Biblical sacrifices were a concession to the 
primitive practices of the nations at that time: people (including the 
Hebrews) were not then ready for forms of Divine service which did not 
include sacrifice and death (as did those of all the heathens); at least the 
Torah, as a major advance, prohibited human sacrifice. 10 God later permits 
people to eat meat even if not as part of a sacrificial offering: 

When the Lord your God shall enlarge your border as He has 
promised you, and you shall say: "I will eat flesh," because your soul 
desires to eat flesh; you may eat flesh, after all the desire of your 
soul. (Deuteronomy 12:20) 


This newly-permitted meat was called basar ta'avah, "meat of lust," so 
named because rabbinic teachings indicate that meat is not considered a 
necessity for life. 11 

The above verse does not command people to eat meat. Rabbinic tradi- 
tion understands the Torah as acknowledging people's desire to eat flesh 
and permitting it under proper circumstances, but not as requiring the 
consumption of meat. Even while arguing against vegetarianism as a moral 
cause, Rabbi Elijah Judah Schochet, author of Animal Life in Jewish Tradi- 
tion, concedes that "Scripture does not command the Israelite to eat meat, 
but rather permits this diet as a concession to lust." 12 Similarly, another 
critic of vegetarian activism, Rabbi J. David Bleich, a noted contemporary 
Torah scholar and professor at Yeshiva University, states, "The implication 
is that meat may be consumed when there is desire and appetite for it as 
food, but it may be eschewed when there is not desire and, a fortiori, when 
it is found to be repugnant." 13 According to Rabbi Bleich, "Jewish tradition 
does not command carnivorous behavior...." 14 

Commenting on the above Torah verse (Deuteronomy 12:20), the 
respected Torah scholar and teacher Dr. Nehama Leibowitz (1905-1997) 
points out how odd this allowance is and how grudgingly the permission to 
eat meat is granted. She concludes that people have not been granted 
dominion over animals to do with them as they desire, but that we have 
been given a "barely tolerated dispensation" to slaughter animals for our 
consumption, if we cannot resist temptation and feel the need to eat 
meat. 15 Rav Kook also regards the Torah verse as clearly indicating that the 
Torah does not view the slaughter of animals for human consumption as an 
ideal state of affairs. 16 

The Talmud expresses this negative connotation associated with the 
consumption of meat: 

The Torah teaches a lesson in moral conduct, that man shall not 
eat meat unless he has a special craving for it ... and shall eat it 
only occasionally and sparingly. 17 

The sages also felt that eating meat was not for everyone: 


Only a scholar of Torah may eat meat, but one who is ignorant of 
Torah is forbidden to eat meat. 18 

Some authorities explain this restriction in practical terms: only a Torah 
scholar can properly observe all the laws of animal slaughter and meat 
preparation. While there are few conditions on the consumption of vege- 
tarian foods, only a diligent Torah scholar can fully comprehend the many 
regulations governing the preparation and consumption of meat. However, 
master kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria explains it in spiritual terms: only a 
Torah scholar can elevate the "holy sparks" trapped in the animal. 19 

How many Jews today can consider themselves sufficiently scholarly 
and spiritually advanced to be able to eat meat? Those who do diligently 
study the Torah and are aware of conditions related to the production and 
slaughter of meat today would, I believe, come to conclusions similar to 
those in this chapter. 

Rav Kook writes that the permission to eat meat "after all the desire of 
your soul" is a concealed reproach and an implied reprimand. 20 He states 
that a day will come (the Messianic Period) when people will detest the 
eating of the flesh of animals because of a moral loathing, and then people 
will not eat meat because their soul will not have the urge to eat it. 21 

In contrast to the lust associated with flesh foods, the Torah looks 
favorably on vegetarian foods. In the Song of Songs, the divine bounty is 
poetically described in references to fruits, vegetables, nuts, and vines. 
There is no special bracha (blessing) recited before eating meat or fish, as 
there is for other foods such as bread, cake, wine, fruits, and vegetables. 
The blessing for meat is a general one, the same as that over water or any 
other undifferentiated food. 

Typical of the Torah's positive depiction of many non-flesh foods is the 
following evocation of the produce of the Land of Israel: 

For the Lord your God brings you into a good land, a land of brooks 
of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and 
hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pome- 
granates; a land of olive oil and date honey; a land wherein you 
shall eat bread without scarceness, you shall not lack anything in 


it... And you shall eat and be satisfied, and bless the Lord your God 
for the good land that He has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:7—10) 

Rav Kook believes that there is a reprimand implicit in the many laws and 
restrictions over the preparing, combining, and eating of animal products 
(the laws of kashrut), because they are meant to provide an elaborate appa- 
ratus designed to keep alive a sense of reverence for life, with the aim of 
eventually leading people away from meat eating. 22 He also believes that 
the high moral level involved in the vegetarianism of the generations 
before Noah was a virtue of such great value that it cannot be lost forever. 23 
In the future ideal time (the Messianic Age), people and animals will again 
not eat each others' flesh. 24 People's lives will not be supported at the 
expense of animals' lives. Rav Kook based these views on the prophecy of 

And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, 

And the leopard shall lie down with the kid; 

And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; 

And a little child shall lead them 

And the cow and the bear shall feed; 

Their young ones shall lie down together, 

And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.... 

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain... 

(Isaiah 11:6-9) 

In a booklet that summarizes many of Rav Kook's teachings, Joseph Green, 
a twentieth-century South African Jewish vegetarian writer, concludes 
that Jewish religious ethical vegetarians are pioneers of the messianic era; 
they are leading lives that prepare for and potentially hasten the coming of 
the Messiah. 25 

His view is based on the Jewish belief that one way to speed the arrival 
of the Messiah is to start practicing the behaviors that will prevail in the 
Messianic time. For example, the Talmud teaches that if all Jews properly 
observed two consecutive Sabbaths, the Messiah would immediately 


come. 26 Perhaps this means symbolically that when all Jews reach the level 
of fully observing the Sabbath in its emphasis on devotion to God and 
compassion for people and animals, the conditions for the messianic period 
will have arrived. Based on Rav Kook's teaching, if all people became vege- 
tarian in the proper spirit, with compassion for all animals and human 
beings, and with a commitment to preserve and honor God's world, this 
might hasten the coming of the Messiah. 

Although most Jews eat meat today, God's high ideal — the initial vege- 
tarian dietary law — stands supreme in the Torah for Jews and the whole 
world to see. It is the ultimate goal toward which all people should strive. 

How Vegetarianism Can Help Reduce Global Threats 

A. Helping Hungry People 

Can a shift to vegetarian diets make a difference with regard to world 
hunger? Consider these statistics: 

1. It takes up to sixteen pounds of grain to produce one pound of feedlot 
beef for human consumption. 27 

2. While the average Asian consumes between three hundred and four 
hundred pounds of grain a year, the average middle-class American 
consumes over two thousand pounds of grain, eighty percent of which 
comes in the form of meat from grain-fed animals. 28 

3. Over seventy percent of the grain produced in the United States and 
over one-third of the world's grain is fed to animals destined for slaughter. 29 

4. If Americans reduced their beef consumption by ten percent, it would 
free up enough grain to feed all of the world's people who annually die of 
hunger and related diseases. 30 

5. U.S. livestock consume over six and a half times as much grain as the 
U.S. human population does. According to the Council for Agricultural 
Science and Technology, an Iowa-based non-profit research group, the 
grain fed to animals to produce meat, milk, and eggs could feed five times 
the number of people that it currently does if it were consumed directly by 
humans. 31 


6. While fifty-six million acres of U.S. land produce hay for livestock, 
only four million acres of U.S. land are producing vegetables for human 
consumption. 32 

7. While one hectare (about 2.5 acres) of land growing potatoes can feed 
twenty-two people, and one hectare growing rice can feed nineteen 
people, that same area producing beef can feed only one person." 

8. Feeding grain to livestock wastes ninety percent of the protein, almost 
a hundred percent of the carbohydrates, and a hundred percent of the fiber 
of the grain. While grains are a rich source of fiber, animal products have 
no fiber at all. 34 

This evidence indicates that the food being fed to animals in the 
affluent nations could, if properly distributed, potentially end both hunger 
and malnutrition throughout the world. A switch from animal-centered 
diets would free up land and other resources, which could then be used to 
grow nutritious crops for people. This new approach would also promote 
policies that would enable people in the underdeveloped countries to use 
their resources and skills to raise their own food. 

With so much hunger in the world, explicit Jewish mandates to feed 
the hungry, help the poor, share resources, practice charity, show compas- 
sion, and pursue justice, as well as the lessons from many experiences of 
hunger in Jewish history, point to vegetarianism as the diet most consistent 
with Jewish teachings about hunger. 

B. Destructive Use of Resources 

Unfortunately, the wisdom of bal tashchit (the Torah mandate not to waste) 
is seldom applied today by our society. Instead we have planned obsoles- 
cence and bigger and more wasteful celebrations, homes, SUVs, and 
product packaging, resulting in ever-swelling landfills that leave a growing 
blot on the landscape and the planet. Our society's animal-centered diets 
are extremely wasteful: 

1. About eight hundred million acres (forty percent of U.S. land area) 
are devoted to livestock grazing, and an additional sixty million acres 
are used to grow grain to feed livestock. 35 Land that grows potatoes, 


rice, and other vegetables can support about twenty times as many 
people as land that produces grain-fed beef. 

2. As stated in the previous section, the average person in the United 
States eats over five times as much grain (mostly in the form of animal 
products) as a person in a less developed country; it takes up to sixteen- 
pounds of grain and soybeans to produce one pound of feedlot beef for 
our plates, and more than two-thirds of the grain grown in the United 
States is fed to farm animals, whom we then slaughter and eat. 

3. The standard diet of a meat eater in the United States requires 4,200 
gallons of water per day (for animals' drinking water, irrigation of 
crops, meat processing, washing, cooking, etc.). 36 A person on a purely 
vegetarian (vegan) diet requires only 300 gallons per day." 

4. Animal agriculture is the major consumer of water in the U.S. 
According to Norman Myers, author of Gaia: An Atlas of Planet 
Management, irrigation, primarily to grow crops for animals, uses over 
eighty percent of U.S. water.' 8 Almost ninety percent of the fresh 
water consumed annually in the U.S. goes to agriculture, according to 
agriculture expert David Pimentel." The production of only one 
pound of edible beef in a semi-arid area such as California requires as 
much as 5,200 gallons of water, as contrasted with only twenty-five 
gallons or less to produce an edible pound of tomatoes, lettuce, pota- 
toes, or wheat. 40 Newsweek reported in 1988 that "the water that goes 
into a 1,000 pound steer would float a (naval) destroyer." 41 

5. An animal-based diet also wastes energy. In the United States, an 
average of ten calories of fuel energy is required for every calorie of 
food energy produced; many other countries obtain twenty or more 
calories of food energy per calorie of fuel energy. 42 To produce one 
pound of steak (five hundred calories of food energy) requires 20,000 
calories of fossil fuels, most of which is expended in producing and 
providing feed crops. 43 Seventy-eight calories of fossil fuel are required 
for each calorie of protein obtained from feedlot-produced beef, but 
only two calories of fossil fuel are needed to produce a calorie of 
protein from soybeans. 44 Grains and beans require only two to five 
percent as much fossil fuel as beef. 45 The energy needed to produce a 
pound of grain-fed beef is equivalent to one gallon of gasoline. 46 


6. According to a comprehensive study sponsored by the U.S. Depart- 
ments of Interior and Commerce, the value of all raw materials used to 
produce food from livestock is greater than the value of all oil, gas, and 
coal produced in this country. 47 The production of livestock foods 
accounts for a third of the value of all raw materials consumed for all 
purposes in the U.S. 48 

As these facts indicate, vegetarianism is the diet most consistent with 
the principle of bal tashchit. 

C. Ecological Damage from Current Animal Agriculture 

Modern agricultural methods used in meat production are a prime cause of 
the environmental crises facing the United States and much of the rest of 
the world today. 

1. According to mathematician Robin Hur, nearly six billion of the 
seven billion tons of eroded soil in the United States has been lost 
because of cattle and feed lot production. 49 Agronomist David 
Pimentel writes that about ninety percent of U.S. cropland is losing 
soil at a rate at least thirteen times faster than the sustainable rate. 50 
William Brune, a former Iowa State conservation official, warned that 
two bushels of topsoil are being lost for every bushel of corn (most of 
which is fed to animals) harvested in Iowa's sloping soils. 51 Lower yields 
are occurring in many areas due to erosion and the reduction in 
fertility that it causes. 52 

2. Grazing animals have destroyed large areas of land throughout the 
world, with overgrazing having long been a prime cause of erosion. 
Over sixty percent of all U.S. rangelands are overgrazed, with billions 
of tons of soil lost each year. 55 Cattle production is a prime contributor 
to every one of the causes of desertification: overgrazing of livestock, 
over-cultivation of land, improper irrigation techniques, deforestation, 
and prevention of reforestation. 

3. In the United States, more plant species have been eliminated due to 
overgrazing by livestock than by any other cause. 54 


4- Mountains of manure produced by cattle raised in feedlots wash into 
and pollute streams, rivers, and underground water sources. U.S. live- 
stock produce an astounding 1.4 billion tons of manure per year (this 
amount works out to almost 90,000 pounds per second!), or about 130 
times the amount excreted by the U.S. human population. 53 Food 
geographer Georg Borgstrom has estimated that American livestock 
contribute five times more organic waste to the pollution of our water 
than do people, and twice as much as does industry. 56 

5. The tremendous amount of grain grown to feed animals requires 
extensive use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, which cause air and 
water pollution. Various constituents of fertilizer, particularly 
nitrogen, are washed into surface waters. High levels of nitrates in 
drinking water cause illnesses in people and animals. According to 
Norman Myers' Gaia, fertilizers and pesticides are responsible for over 
half of U.S. water pollution. 57 

6. The quantity of pesticides and other synthetic poisons used has 

increased by four hundred percent since 1962, when Rachel Carson 
wrote Silent Spring, the book that so eloquently sounded the alarm 
about the dangers of pesticides to human health, rivers, and wildlife. 58 
Also, in a "circle of poison," pesticides banned or heavily restricted in 
the U.S. are legally exported to poor countries, where they are then 
used on foods imported back into the United States. Because of accu- 
mulation of pesticides in the body fat of animals, people who eat meat 
and other animal products ingest large amounts of pesticides, which 
then build up in their body fat. 

7. Demand for meat in wealthy countries leads to environmental damage 
in poor countries. Largely to turn beef into fast-food hamburgers for 
export to the U.S., the earth's tropical rain forests are being bulldozed 
at a rate of a football field per second. 59 Each imported quarter-pound 
fast-food hamburger patty requires the destruction of fifty-five square 
feet of tropical forest for grazing. 60 Half of the rain forests are already 
gone forever, and at current rates of destruction the rest will be gone 
by the middle of this century. What makes this especially ominous is 
that half of the world's fast-disappearing species of plants and animals 
reside in tropical rain forests. We are risking the loss of species that 


might hold secrets for cures of deadly diseases. Other plant species 
might turn out to be good sources of nutrition. Also, the destruction of 
rain forests is altering the climate and reducing rainfall, with poten- 
tially devastating effects on the world's agriculture and habitability. 

D. How Animal-Based Agriculture Contributes to Global Warming 

While recent concern about global warming is necessrary (and overdue), 
the many connections between typical American (and other Western) 
diets and global warming have generally been overlooked. Modern inten- 
sive livestock agriculture and the consumption of meat greatly contribute 
to the four major gases associated with the greenhouse effect: carbon 
dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, and chlorofluorocarbons. 61 

The burning of tropical forests releases tons of carbon dioxide into the 
atmosphere — carbon dioxide that the trees are no longer there to absorb. 
Also, the highly mechanized agricultural sector uses enormous amounts of 
fossil fuel to produce pesticides, chemical fertilizer, and other agricultural 
resources, and this also contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. Cattle 
emit methane as part of their digestive process, as do the termites who feast 
on the charred remains of trees that were burned to create grazing land and 
land to grow feed crops for farmed animals. The large amounts of petro- 
chemical fertilizers used to produce feed crops create significant quantities 
of nitrous oxides. Likewise, the increased refrigeration necessary to prevent 
animal products from spoiling adds chlorofluorocarbons to the atmos- 


When we consider all of these negative environmental and climate- 
change effects, and then add the harmful effects of animal-based diets on 
human health and global hunger, it is clear that animal-centered diets and 
the livestock agriculture needed to sustain them pose tremendous threats 
to global survival. It is not surprising that the Union of Concerned Scien- 
tists (UCS) ranks the consumption of meat and poultry as the second most 
harmful consumer activity (surpassed only by the use of cars and light 
trucks). 62 It is clear that a shift toward vegetarianism is imperative if we are 


to turn our planet from its present catastrophic path. Jeremy Rifkin 
summarizes well the negative effects of animal-based agriculture: 

The ever-increasing cattle population is wreaking havoc on the 
earth's ecosystems, destroying habitats on six continents. Cattle 
raising is a primary factor in the destruction of the world's 
remaining tropical rain forests. Millions of acres of ancient forests 
in Central and South America are being felled and cleared to 
make room for pastureland to graze cattle. Cattle herding is 
responsible for much of the spreading desertification in the sub- 
Sahara of Africa and the western rangeland of the United States 
and Australia. The overgrazing of semiarid and arid lands has left 
parched and barren deserts on four continents. Organic runoff 
from feedlots is now a major source of organic pollution in our 
nation's ground water. Cattle are also a major cause of global 
warming. ...The devastating environmental, economic, and 
human toll of maintaining a worldwide cattle complex is little 
discussed in public policy circles.... Yet, cattle production and beef 
consumption now rank among the gravest threats to the future 
well being of the earth and its human population. 63 

The aims of vegetarians and environmental activists are similar: 
simplify our lifestyles, have regard for the earth and all forms of life, and 
apply the knowledge that the earth is not ours to do with as we wish. In 
view of the many negative effects of animal-based agriculture on the 
earth's environment, resources, and climate, it is becoming increasingly 
clear that a shift toward vegetarian diets is a planetary imperative. 


I am a Jew because the faith of Israel [the Jewish people] demands 
no abdication of my mind. 

I am a Jew because the faith of Israel asks every possible sacrifice of 
my soul. 

1 am a Jew because in all places where there are tears and suffering 
the Jew weeps. 

I am a Jew because in every age when the cry of despair is heard the 
Jew hopes. 

1 am a Jew because the message of Israel is the most ancient and the 
most modern. 

I am a Jew because Israel's promise is a universal promise. 

1 am a Jew because for Israel the world is not finished; men will 
complete it. 

I am a Jew because for Israel man is not yet fully created; men are 
creating him. 

1 am a Jew because Israel places man and his unity above nations 
and above Israel itself. 

I am a Jew because above man, image of the divine unity, Israel 
places the unity that is divine. (Edmond Fleg, "Why I Am a Jew") 1 

proclaims a God who is the Creator of all life, whose attributes of 
kindness, mercy, compassion, and justice are to serve as examples for all 
our actions. Judaism teaches that every person is created in God's image, 
and therefore is of supreme value. 



Judaism asserts that people are to be co-workers with God in 
preserving and improving the earth. We are to be stewards of the world's 
resources to see that God's bounties are used for the benefit of all. Nothing 
that has value may be wasted or destroyed unnecessarily. 

Judaism stresses that we are to love other people as ourselves, to be 
kind to strangers, "for we were strangers in the land of Egypt," and to act 
with compassion toward the homeless, the poor, the orphan, the widow, 
even to enemies, and to all of God's creatures. 

Judaism places great value on reducing hunger. A Jew who helps to 
feed a hungry person is considered, in effect, to have "fed" God. 

Judaism mandates that we seek peace. Great is peace, for it is one of 
God's names, all God's blessings are contained in it, it must be sought even 
in times of war, and it will be the first blessing brought by the Messiah. 

Judaism exhorts us to pursue justice, to work for a society where each 
person has the ability to obtain, through creative labor, the means to lead 
a dignified life for himself and his family. 

Judaism stresses involvement, nonconformity, resistance to oppression 
and injustice, and a constant struggle against idolatry. 

This book discusses how this ancient, marvelous Jewish outlook speaks 
to the earth's gravest problems. It suggests four main themes: 

1. The world faces many critical problems today: vast poverty, threat- 
ened ecosystems, widespread hunger, global climate change, dwindling 
resources (including water and fossil energy), war and violence, and rapid 
population growth. 

2. The application of Jewish values such as pursuing justice, sharing 
resources, acting with kindness and compassion, loving our fellow human 
beings, working as partners with God in protecting the earth, and seeking 
and pursuing peace will contribute to finding solutions to these problems. 

3. There has been too little effort to apply the Jewish tradition to the 
many critical problems that threaten the world today. In fact, there has 
generally been a shift away from these basic Jewish values at the very time 
when the world needs them perhaps more than ever before. 

4. In the face of today's urgent problems, Jews must return to our 
universal Jewish values and our mission: to be "a light unto the nations," a 


kingdom of priests and a holy people, descendants of prophets, champions 
of social justice, eternal protesters against the corrupt, unredeemed world, 
dissenters against destructive and unjust systems. We must work for radical 
changes that will lead to a society where there is an end to oppression, 
violence, hunger, poverty, and alienation. Jews must become actively 
involved in the missions of global survival and Jewish renewal. 

The afternoon service for Yom Kippur includes the book of Jonah, who 
was sent by God to Nineveh to urge the people to repent and change their 
evil ways in order to avoid their destruction. Today the whole world is 
Nineveh, in danger of annihilation and in need of repentance and redemp- 
tion, and each one of us must be a Jonah, with a mission to warn the world 
that it must turn from greed, injustice, and idolatry, so that we can all avoid 
global oblivion. 


killed in terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center 
and a part of the Pentagon. Only days earlier, a U.N. -sponsored gathering 
of Non-Governmental Organizations in Durban, South Africa, endorsed a 
slanderous resolution accusing the state of Israel of practicing apartheid 
and comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany. 

These are not easy days to advocate worldwide cooperation and amity 
or to promote concern for the globe's neediest people and for the planet's 
ecosystems. Some self-proclaimed representatives of these causes are even 
declaring that the United States and Israel deserve to be assaulted by 
fiendish suicidal terrorism because of our moral failings and misdeeds. 

Judaism and Global Survival purposely focuses on problems that 
confront the entire world and all of its human (and animal) inhabitants. 
This book has avoided intensive treatment of the crises of peace, security, 
and coexistence that hover over our beloved Israel, because these are best 
engaged at length and in depth in other publications and forums. But the 
current moment requires that something be said about these questions. 

Just as the Torah and Jewish tradition command us (as has been 
repeatedly documented in this book) to love our neighbor and the stranger 
in our midst, work to preserve God's creation, and extend ourselves to 
fellow human beings who are suffering, they also clearly outline the 
unbreakable tie between the Jewish people and our eternal homeland. The 
same religious Zionist tradition taught by the late masters Chief Rabbi 
Abraham Isaac Ha-Kohen Kook, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, and 
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, which incorporates their compelling exhor- 



tations to promote justice and understanding among all peoples, to care for 
the vulnerable, and to act as stewards of God's earth, also expresses their 
sense of the centrality of the Jewish State as an intended model of right- 
eousness, fellowship, and social responsibility. Jewish history teaches us to 
act on behalf of those who are enslaved as we have been, and it demon- 
strates that fair and open societies are the healthiest and most productive 
ones for Jews to live in. It also reminds us that, because of the Crusades and 
pogroms and jihads, the Jews need a safe and well-defended country to live 
in and flee to. 

So, while this book is presented in the spirit of encouraging alliances 
and partnerships among all people of good heart and idealistic faith, it is 
also based on the premises — it is astonishing they even need to be 
uttered! — that the Jewish people have the same right to be in our histor- 
ical homeland and to practice self-determination that every nation should 
enjoy; that Israel has gone vastly further toward democracy and human 
dignity and protecting the rights of all its citizens than has any other 
country in the region (though, of course, there is much further yet to go); 
and that Jews have the same entitlement as any religious and ethnic group 
to defend our own and to pursue our particular path. There are those who 
declare that they are allies of peace and justice but who question or attack 
Israel's right to exist, defame Israel's social accomplishments and the civic 
freedoms achieved by her citizens, scoff at America's sympathy for Israel 
(based as it is on her status as a fellow successful nation of immigrants — 
though Jews have lived continuously in the land since before King David 
ruled it three thousand years ago), and claim that everything would be fine 
in the Middle East and the world if Israel would just close up shop or if 
America would leave Israel to her fate. They are no friends at all of equity 
and harmony. They are enemies, who single out Israel, the United States, 
and the Jews for special and invidious treatment, just as Osama bin Laden, 
Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Goebbels and his close ally the 
Mufti did, and before them Torquemada, Antiochus, Haman, and 

It is, of course, necessary to make a distinction between sincere critics 
and malicious or falsely innocent foes. It is entirely legitimate to disagree 
with specific policies of any particular Israeli government (there have, 


after all, been seven different Prime Ministers in the past decade). And if 
peace is ever to be achieved Israel will have to make extensive compro- 
mises and sacrifices. But this should never be allowed to serve as a cover 
for those who want Israel not only to be cooperative and forthcoming but, 
either explicitly or for all practical purposes, to commit suicide. 

Those of us who advance Judaism and its teachings as blueprints for 
global comity and conscience should not be ashamed of demanding that 
our tradition, people, and historic patrimony receive the same respect and 
deference that all heritages and nationalities merit. The principles of 
equality and human rights, of the divine importance of every individual 
and the preciousness of our shared earth, which animated Eleanor 
Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and Rachel Carson (as well as 
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Albert Einstein) emanate from our 
Torah. Every person is a universe, every murder destroys an entire world, 
each human being is created in the image of God. Jews, too! 

We must march under the banner of our community and of the historic 
wisdom of our holy texts. The world needs to be repaired and redeemed. 
Jews have an indispensable role in that redemption, and our continuity 
and the acceptance of our valid claims are necessary if we are to go on 
contributing as our teachers have eternally instructed. We will aid and 
contribute, and live and die, as members of the Jewish people, and as 
emblems of the sweet message and majesty of Judaism. 


It is not the study that is the chief thing, but the doing. (Kiddushin 40b) 

values can help solve many of the world's critical problems. As the 
above quotation indicates, it is crucial to apply these values, to put Jewish 
teachings into practice and help shift the world from its present direction, 
heading toward potential disaster. 

In attempting to change the world, sometimes we have to begin by 
changing ourselves. Rabbi Israel Salanter, the founder of the mussar 
(ethics) movement in Lithuania, taught: "First a person should put his 
house together, then his town, then his world." 

If you feel that global crises are so great that your efforts will have little 
effect, consider the following. The Jewish tradition teaches: "You are not 
obligated to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it." 1 
Each of us must make a start and do whatever he or she can to help 
improve the world. As stated in Chapter 1, Judaism teaches that a person 
is obligated to protest when there is evil and, if necessary, to proceed from 
protest to action. Each person is to imagine that the world is evenly 
balanced between good and evil, and that her or his actions can determine 
the destiny of the entire world. 2 

Even if little is accomplished, trying to make improvements will 
prevent the hardening of your heart and will affirm your acceptance of 
moral responsibility. Even the act of consciousness-raising is important, 
because it may lead to future action for change. Here are some things that 
each person can do: 



1. Become well informed. Learn the facts about global problems and 
the applicable Jewish values from this and other books (see Bibliography). 

2. Inform others. Wear a button. Put bumper stickers where many 
people will see them. Make and display posters. Write timely letters to 
editors of local publications. Set up programs and discussions. Become 
registered with community, library, or school speakers' bureaus. 

3. Simplify your lifestyle. Conserve energy. Recycle materials. Bike or 
walk whenever possible, instead of driving. Share rides. Use mass transit 
when appropriate. 

4. Become a vegetarian, or at least sharply reduce your consumption of 
animal products. As discussed in Chapter 12, vegetarianism is the diet 
most consistent with such Jewish values as showing compassion to animals, 
taking care of one's health, preserving the environment, sharing with 
hungry people, conserving resources, and pursuing peace. 

5. Work with organizations and groups on some of the significant issues 
discussed in this book. For contact information, see Appendix C. If there 
are no local groups or if you differ with such groups on some important 
issue, set up a group in your synagogue, Jewish center, or Hillel. 

In the summer of 2000, sixteen environmental groups banded together 
in Switzerland to unveil a new Climate Voice web site that lets visitors 
send messages to the world's political leaders calling for action to address 
climate change. The groups — which include the World Wildlife Fund, 
Greenpeace International, and Friends of the Earth — aimed to generate 
ten million public messages to heads of state and prime ministers before 
international climate change talks that were held in The Hague in 
November 2000, where crucial decisions on implementation of the Kyoto 
climate change treaty were made. 5 

6. Encourage your public and congregational libraries to order, stock, 
and circulate books on global issues and Jewish teachings related to them. 
Donate your duplicate copies, request that libraries regularly acquire such 
books and subscribe to relevant magazines, and, if you can afford it, buy 
some to donate. 

7. Speak or organize events with guest speakers and/or audio-visual 
presentations on how Jewish values address global issues. 


8. Ask rabbis and other religious leaders to give sermons and/or classes 
that discuss Judaism's teachings on current problems. 

9. Ask principals of yeshivas and day schools to see that their curricula 
reflect traditional Jewish concerns with environmental, peace, and justice 
issues. Volunteer to speak to classes and to help plan curricula. 

10. Contact editors of local newspapers and ask that more space be 
devoted to global issues. Write articles and letters using information from 
this book and other sources. 

1 1 . Try to influence public policy on the issues discussed in this book. 
Organize letter-writing campaigns and group visits to politicians to lobby 
for a safer, saner, more stable world. 

12. Engage with rabbis and religious educators and leaders on how we 
should be applying to today's critical issues such Jewish mandates as "seek 
peace and pursue it," u bal tashchit," "justice, justice shall you pursue," and 
"love your neighbor as yourself." 

13. As an outgrowth of Jewish teachings on helping hungry people and 
conserving resources, work to end the tremendous amount of waste associ- 
ated with many Jewish organizational functions and celebrations. 
Encourage friends and institutions to simplify, reduce, and serve less lavish 
celebratory feasts (and put this into practice at your own celebrations). 
Request that meat not be served, since production of meat wastes grain, 
land, and other resources. Refraining from eating meat also expresses iden- 
tification with the millions of people who lack an adequate diet, as well as 
the billions of farmed animals slaughtered each year. Reclaim leftover food 
from simchas to donate to shelters and food kitchens. Recommend to 
people hosting a celebration that they donate a portion of the cost of the 
event to Mazon or another group working to reduce hunger. 

14. Help set up a committee to analyze and reduce energy consump- 
tion in the synagogue. 4 Apply steps taken to reduce synagogue energy use 
as a model for similar action on other buildings and homes in the commu- 

15. Set up a social action committee in your synagogue, temple, Jewish 
center, day or afternoon school, or campus to help people get more 
involved in educational and action-centered activities. Build coalitions 
with other social justice groups in the community. 


16. Raise the consciousness of your synagogue and other local Jewish 
organizations and individuals. Ask questions such as: 

What would the Jewish prophets say about our society today? about 
our Judaism? about our synagogue activities? Why are Jewish teachings 
about achieving a better world through tikkun olam so little known? 

Have we forgotten amid our many important shiurim (classes) that it is 
not study that is the chief thing, but action? Are we segregating God inside 
our synagogues? Shouldn't Jewish commitment include sensitivity to 
ethical values and social idealism as well as ritual practice, Torah study, and 
charity — and a public application of these values? 

Have we forgotten who we are, what we stand for, and Whom we 
represent? Have we forgotten our roles: to be a chosen people, a light unto 
the nations, a holy people, descendants of the prophets — the original 
champions of social justice? 

If God is sanctified by justice and righteousness, why are we so compla- 
cent in the face of an unredeemed, immoral, unjust world? 

Are we taking our ethical ideals and prophetic teachings seriously 
enough? If we are told "justice, justice, shall you pursue" and "let justice 
well up as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream," why is there so 
much complacency about poverty, exploitation, corruption at every level 
of government, and corporate connivance that affect our health and 

Considering the many threats to our (and God's) world, from global 
warming, destruction of tropical rain forests, depletion of the ozone layer, 
acid rain, rapid loss of biodiversity, soil erosion and depletion, and wide- 
spread air and water pollution, and in light of Judaism's strong environ- 
mental messages, shouldn't the preservation of the global environment be 
given greater priority on the Jewish agenda? 


A. Jewish Values vs. Conventional Values Held by Many People 

One of the primary factors behind many of the world's problems today is 
the sharp discrepancy between Jewish values and those believed and prac- 
ticed by much of the world, including many Jews. Consider: 

Jewish Values 

1. Prophets 

2. Love your neighbor as yourself. 

3. Just weights; just measures 

4. People created in God's image 

5. God 

6. The Earth is the Lord's. 

7. People are co-workers with 
God in efforts to improve the 

8. Sanctity of every life 

Conventional Values 

1. Profits 

2. Suspect your neighbor as your- 

3. Let the buyer beware. 

4. People treated as consumers 

5. Me 

6. The earth exploited for 
convenience and profit 

7. Do your own thing. Seek 
personal advantage. 

8. Lives endangered to increase 



9. Tzedek, tzedek tirdof (Justice, 
justice shall you pursue). 

10. Tza'ar ba'alei chayim (kindness 
to animals) 

11. God provides food for all; share 
your bread with the hungry. 

12. Leave the corners of the field 
and the gleanings of the 
harvest for the poor. 

13. 1 am my brother's keeper. 

14. Sumptuary laws that limit 
expenditures on simchas 

15. Sabbatical year; let the ground 
lie fallow. 

16. Jubilee; redistribution of 

17. To be 

18. Dignity of labor 

19. Seek peace and pursue it. 

20. Be kind to the stranger. 

9. Society filled with injustice 

10. Animals treated cruelly to 
meet human desires 

11. Millions die annually due to 
lack of food; "enough for the 
world's need, but not its greed." 

12. Centralized help; let the 
government handle social 

13. "What's in it for me?" 

14. Lavish affairs; wastefulness 

15. Fertility of soil destroyed by 
planting single crops annually 

16. Growing rich— poor gaps 

17. To have; to consume; to 

18. Little pride in work 

19. My country right or wrong; 
excessive arms expenditures 

20. Discrimination and animosity 
between groups 

In order to solve the many critical problems that the world now faces, 
it is essential that the values of the world be influenced by Jewish values! 


B. Global Warming Resolution 

Whereas Judaism teaches that "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness 
thereof (Psalm 24:1), and that people are to be partners and co-workers 
with God in preserving the earth's environment, and 

Whereas there is mounting evidence that we are already experiencing 
global warming, including the facts that all ten of the warmest years on 
record have occurred in the last fifteen years, and the hottest year in 
recorded history occurred in 1998, and 

Whereas scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change, the authoritative international group charged with studying this 
issue, concluded in their Assessment Reports (which received contributions 
and peer review from over 2,500 of the world's leading climate scientists, 
economists, and risk-analysis experts) that the observed global tempera- 
ture increase during the last century "is unlikely to be entirely natural in 
origin," that "the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible 
human influence on human climate," and the average global temperature 
will increase by between 2.5 and 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 
century, and 

Whereas the main cause of this global warming has been the increase 
in atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases, including carbon 
dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, and chlorofluorocarbons, which act as a 
"greenhouse," trapping heat radiated out from the earth, and climate 
scientists have linked the increases of these heat-trapping gases in the 
atmosphere to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels (coal, 
oil, and natural gas), cattle ranching, deforestation, and rice farming, and 

Whereas global warming has potentially very severe consequences, 
including damage to human health; the loss of ecologically important 
plant and animal species; severe stress on forests, wetlands, and other 
natural habitats; dislocation of agriculture and commerce; intensified food 
shortages; expansion of the earth's deserts; rise in sea levels due to the 
melting of polar ice caps; and increased numbers of hurricanes, floods, and 
other severe weather events, 

This organization resolves to urge elected officials including President 
Bush and other decision makers to make the struggle against global 
warming a major priority; to press for legislation that will significantly 


reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to move to inform our community and 
our nation that we can make lifestyle changes that will reduce contribu- 
tions to global warming; and to attempt to involve other (synagogues, 
groups, campuses) in programs and activities to educate their members 
about the risks of global warming and steps that can be taken to reduce it. 


Listed below are just a few of the many Jewish organizations working in 
a wide variety of areas to improve the world, to organize members of 
their communities to contribute and help, and to involve Jews in 
changing society. Some of these websites have links to numerous other 
groups; you can also contact other organizations near you to find oppor- 
tunities to join in and help make a difference. 

1. Jewish Environmental Organizations 

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) 
Supported by a broad range of American Jewish organizations, COEJL is 
the central hub that mobilizes, informs, and represents the Jewish commu- 
nity of North America in environmental advocacy, education, coalition- 
building, and action campaigns, 

Endangered Spirit 

Jewish outdoor adventure program for teens, adults, and families. Their day 
trips in the Midwest and West, and longer journeys to Argentina or Costa 
Rica, include Shabbat observance, kosher food, and study of Jewish writ- 
ings about the natural world, 


Organizes bike rides to raise awareness of ecological concerns in Judaism 

and funds for Jewish environmental organizations, 



Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America 

Network of twenty branches across North America that plan outdoor and 
environmental activities for Jewish adults, and an annual Labor Day 
national event, 

2. Environmental Groups in Israel 

Note: some of the listed websites are in Hebrew; click on the "English" icon. 

Arava Institute for Environmental Studies 

Academic research and teaching center and regional base for conservation 

activity, located at Kibbutz Ketura. 

Committee for Public Transportation 

Leading the fight against the disastrous Trans-Israel Highway and for 
rational transportation policy in Israel, c/o Henry Gold, 58 Katzenelen- 
bogen St., Suite #11, Jerusalem 93871. (E-mail messages to American 
Friends of the Committee for Public Transportation can be sent care of The Committee for Quality of Life-liar ~N of , which 
is battling to save the Jerusalem Forest — the last major green area in Israel's 
capital — can also be reached at the Katzenelenbogen St. address. 

Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership 

Works to strengthen the Israeli environmental movement through 

training leaders, producing publications (including reports on Israel's 

condition in partnership with the Worldwatch Institute), creating a 

library, and advising foundations to help build a sustainable society. 

Israel Union for Environmental Defense (1UED) 

Known in Hebrew as Adam Teva v'Din, this is Israel's leading environ- 
mental advocacy organization, working to save the air, water, open spaces, 
and public health through litigation, legislative and regulatory reform, and 
active cooperation with local citizens groups, 

Ministry of Environment (Israeli government), 


Neot Kedumim 

The Biblical Landscape Reserve in the Judean foothills, featuring a 
panorama of ecosystems and flora from the Bible and the history of Israel, 
as well as research and numerous publications on ecology in Jewish tradi- 

Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) 

More Israelis participate in SPNI's programs than in those of any other 
non-profit organization in the country: hikes, field study centers, natural 
history materials, and public campaigns, 

There are numerous other environmental groups in Israel, including Green 
Action, the student organization Green Course, the coordinating umbrella of 
NGO's Haim U'Sviva, the Institute for Sustainability Studies at Kibbutz Gezer, 
and others, as well as local activists in several cities. The organizations listed 
above can assist you in locating additional groups. 

3. Jewish Organizations Combating Hunger and Poverty 

Note: Again, hundreds of groups are working to prevent poverty and to help 
poor people achieve self-reliance . These are just a few. 

American Jewish World Service 

Provides humanitarian aid, emergency relief, volunteers, and support to 
local programs in the developing world that are working for economic 
progress, sustainable agriculture, health, and education, 

Beyond Shelter Coalition 

An alliance of more than thirty Jewish congregations, schools, and organ- 
izations in Manhattan educating, campaigning, and raising funds for 
permanent housing for the homeless, 

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs 

Works with Chicago communities and neighborhoods to promote cooper- 
ation between groups and policies that create jobs, housing, and commu- 
nity investment; develops educational resources to teach Jews about social 


Jewish Fund for Justice 

Through grantmaking, technical assistance, and education, JFJ provides 
aid to grass-roots organizations that are seeking social justice and trying to 
help people and communities in poverty to achieve self-sufficiency and 
lasting advancement, 

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger 

Collects and allocates donations to hunger relief organizations in the U.S., 
Israel, and around the world, and encourages Jews to set aside three percent 
of the cost of festive occasions for feeding the hungry, 

North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ) 
In Israel, provides educational opportunities, training, social support, and 
needed meals; in Ethiopia, brings jobs, food, and life support; works for the 
immigration to Israel of all those in Ethiopia who are eligible, to rescue 
them from oppression, disease, and starvation, 

National Jewish Coalition for Literacy 

Recruits and organizes thousands of American Jews, in over forty local 

affiliates, to help children learn to read, 


The Washington, D.C. area's Jewish housing and development corpora- 
tion mobilizes synagogues, churches, non-profit organizations, Jewish 
volunteers (both professional and physically hands-on) and financial 
resources to help rebuild urban neighborhoods and build partnerships 
between communities, 

4. Other Activist Jewish Organizations 

A selected list of both local and national, alternative and mainline , Americanand 
Israeli groups. Over the last twenty -five years, many of the established Jewish 
organizations have become more involved in supporting social change and 
promoting activism, in part because some of the current leaders spring out of the 
Jewish counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. Also, since the early 1980s, a 


whole set of new Jewish groups has emerged, addressing many different aspects 
of human needs and community involvement. 

Amos: the National Jewish Partnership for Social Justice 

Acts as a catalyst and consultant to Jewish organizations to renew and 

expand the Jewish community's dedication to social justice. Amos' website 

has links to national and local Jewish institutions addressing these issues. 

AVODAH: the Jewish Service Corps 

A one-year program in New York City for young adults, working at a 
social-justice-connected job, living communally, and studying issues and 
Jewish values together, 

Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility 

A project of the Jerusalem College of Technology, the Center seeks to 
promote integrity in business and economic honesty through the study and 
transmission of Jewish ethical teachings. Its programs include an excellent 
website containing an online library of dozens of articles analyzing the 
Torah's outlook on a variety of economic questions; conferences and 
forums in Israel; and the weekly Jewish Ethicist, sent out via e-mail. The 
College is also starting a Center for Judaism and the Environment, which 
will engage in research, teaching, publishing, and participation in Israel 
visits and tours, 

The Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE) 
Brings together thousands of Jewish educators at annual national summer 
conferences and in other forums and projects; CAJE's national task forces, 
sessions at conferences, and publications take on many important issues 
and discuss how to address them in an educatoinal context, 


Promoting the invigoration of modern Orthodoxy and the ways Jewish 

tradition speaks to the contemporary world; Edah's conferences, online 

journal, and other programs treat many specific social and political topics. 


Jewish Labor Committee 

Represents the Jewish community within the trade union movement, and 
keeps workers' rights and labor's ability to organize on the agendas of 
Jewish organizations and the larger Jewish world. JLC is at 25 East 21st St., 
New York, NY 10010. 

Jewish Social Justice Network 

Housed at the Jewish Fund for Justice, JSJN is a consortium of twelve local 
activist Jewish groups from Los Angeles to Boston to Minneapolis-St. Paul 
cooperating on information, training, leadership development, and coor- 
dinated issue campaigns, to promote Jews' involvement in their projects 
and build the visibility of Jewish social change efforts. 


This six-week summer study program for young adults at Camp Ramah in 
California incorporates full-day community service projects and regular 
exploration of texts about the sources and values behind social involve- 

National Council of Jewish Women (NJCW) 

For over a century, the national NCJW and its more than a hundred local 
sections have tried to improve the lives of women, children, and families 
through research, education, advocacy, and community service. The 
website has links to information on domestic violence, gun control, the 
federal judiciary, and other issues, 

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) 

The largest, most active, best informed national headquarters for advocacy 
of Jewish principles is also the hub for Reform Jewish social action all 
around North America. RAC provides leadership, research, publications, 
models for local programming, participation in broad coalitions on 
numerous issues, and influential ongoing contacts with government. You 
can sign up on RAC's website to receive action alerts via e-mail about 
legislation and issues needing immediate attention, 


Pardes Institute 

Energetic, inspiring coed yeshiva in Jerusalem for younger adults from all 
Jewish orientations includes in its intensive program both study of sources 
on communal responsibility and ongoing projects of service and self- 

Shefa Fund 

A public foundation that encourages Jews to use their tzedakah activities to 
create a more just society and to transform American Jewish life, Shefa 's 
work includes grantmaking, investing, and education. A major initiative is 
the TZEDEC community investment project, which organizes Jewish 
institutions and individuals to invest in low- income community develop- 
ment to help create housing, small businesses, financial services, and credit 
in impoverished communities, 

Shalom Center 

This Philadelphia-based activist group is a division of Aleph: Alliance for 
Jewish Renewal. The website's sections on Seeking Peace, Healing the 
Earth, and Pursuing Justice include topical articles, Words of Torah, and 
links to organizations, 

SocialAction . com 

Online Jewish magazine of involvement and convictions packed with 
opinion pieces, Torah discussion (including new pieces for each weekly 
portion), and action ideas on a variety of hot issues; with numerous links 
to all sorts of groups and sites. 

Washington Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values 

Dedicated to renewing American Jewish life by integrating Jewish 
learning, values, and social responsibility; sponsors such programs as 
Jewish Policy Leaders Study Groups; the Jewish Civics Initiative commu- 
nity service program for high school students around the U.S.; and Panim 
el Panim seminars in Washington, D.C., for high school students. 


Yakar Center for Tradition and Creativity 

In addition to active schedules of Torah study, prayer, meditation, and the 
arts, this popular Jerusalem gathering place sponsors the Yakar Center for 
Social Concern — programs and panels on a variety of issues, 

Ziv Tzedakah Fund 

An organization dedicated to mitzvahs — how to give money, what the 
Jewish sources ask of us, how mitzvah heroes improve the world and how 
each of us can do so as well. Based on the teachings and connections of 
Danny Siegel, the Ziv website provides ideas, texts, motivation, and links 
to many groups doing wonderful good deeds, 

5. Another Form of Activism 

A much-expanded listing of activist Jewish organizations and contacts is sched- 
uled to be available later in 2002 on the website of the Institute for Jewish 
Activism , www .jewishactivism .net. 

American Jewish World Service's Jewish Volunteer Corps 
Sends Jewish adults of all ages to participate in projects throughout the 
world and International Jewish College Corps (seven-week summer 
program of study and service), 

The Jewish Agency for Israel's Amitim Program 

Sends North American and Israeli Jews in their twenties for eight months 
of service to underdeveloped Jewish communities in the former Soviet 
Union, and soon in other countries, 

The Joint Distribution Committee's Jewish Service Corps 

Adults of all ages serve overseas for a year in Europe or India to strengthen 

Jewish communal life, 

The World Jewish Peace Corps 

Beginning in July, 2002, volunteers will train in Israel for a year of service 
in India or South Africa, You can get more information 
about and find out how to contact these and other volunteer programs 
through the Jewish Coalition for Service, 


Once again, only a small sampling of groups is given, but many more 
groups can be located through links on the websites indicated below. 

Food First: 

International Food Policy Research Institute: 

International Rescue Committee: 

Jubilee USA: 

National Audubon Society Population and Habitat Program: 
National Labor Committee: 
Natural Resources Defense Council: 
Population Reference Bureau: 
Sierra Club: 

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS): 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 
Vegetarian Resource Group: 
Worker Rights Consortium: 
Worldwatch Institute: 




This is a brief list of important J ewish publications . A more complete list 
(and updates) can be found in the American Jewish Yearbook, published 
by the American Jewish Committee . 

The American Rabbi: David Epstein;; (818) 225-9631 
Amit: Rita Schwalb;;; (212) 

Azure (Shalem Center in Israel): 
Baltimore Jewish Times: Phil Jacobs; editorial @j; www.; (410) 752-3504 
B'Nai B'rith International Jewish Monthly: Jason Silberberg 
The Call (The Workman's Circle): Erica Sigmon;; (212) 

889-6800 (extension 225) 
CCAR Journal: Elliot Stevens;, (212) 972-3636 
Commentary (American Jewish Committee): Neal Kozodoy; commen-; (212) 751-1174 
Congress Monthly (American Jewish Congress): Jack Fischel; (212) 879- 

4500; 15 East 84 Street, New York, NY 10028 
Conservative Judaism (Rabbinical Assembly): Martin Cohen;;; (212) 280-6065 
Farbrengen (Chabad of California): Chaim Cunin; editor@farbrengen. 

com; (310) 208-7511 



Emunah: Faith Reichwald;;; 

Forward: Andrew Silow-Carroll;; www.forward. 

com; (212) 889-8200, ex. 417 
Haaretz daily (English language version): 
Hadassah Magazine: Alan M. Tigay;; (212) 355-7900; 
The Jerusalem Post: Amotz Asa-El;;; 

The Jerusalem Report: David Horovitz;;; 

Jewish Action (Orthodox Union): Charlotte Friedland;;, .(212) 613-0646 
Jewish Currents: Editorial committee; (212) 924-5740 
Jewish Observer (Agudath Israel of America): Rabbi Nissin Wolpin;; (212) 269-2843 
Jewish Week (New York): Gary Rosenblatt;;; (212) 921-7822 
The Jewish Press: Irene Klass;;; 

Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society: Rabbi Alfred Cohen: Rabbi 

Jacob Joseph School, 3495 Richmond Road, Staten Island, New York 

10306; (718) 982-8745 
Jewish Theological Magazine (Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS)) : Esther 

Kustanowitz;; (212) 678-8950 
Lilith: Susan Weidman Schneider;; www.lilithmag. 

com; (212) 757-0818 
Midstream (World Zionist Organization): Leo Haber; (212) 339-6020;; 
Moment: Hershel Shanks;;; 
The Reporter (Women's American ORT): Roberta Zulawski; rzulawski®; (212) 505-7700 
Shalom The Jewish Peace Letter (Jewish Peace Fellowship (JPF)) Murray 

Polner;;; (845) 358- 

4601, ex.35 
Sh'ma Susan Berrin:; (781) 449-9894 


Social (Jewish Resources for Social change): An on-line Jewish 

magazine; Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick; 
Tikkun: Michael Lerner;; 
Tradition (Rabbinical Council of America): Michael Shmidman;; (212) 807-7888 
Tzaddik (Breslov of Tzefat, Israel): Talya Lipshutz;; 

Wellsprings (Chabad Lubavitch): Baila Olidort;;; (718) 953-1000; 
Yated Ne'eman (Agudath Israel of America): Rabbi Pinchus Lipschutz;; (845) 369-1600 



1. Union of Concerned Scientists ( 

2. Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom, New York: Farrar, 
Strauss, and Giroux, 1967, 218. 

Chapter 1 : Involvement and Protest 

1 . Tanchuma to Mishpatim. 

2. Babylonian Talmud: Shabbat 99b. 

3. Midrash Genesis Rabbah 54:3. 

4. Shabbat 55a, Tanchuma Tazria 9. 

5. R. Judah Loew, Netivot Olam, Shaar Hatochaha, end of chapter 2. The result 
of failing to speak out against injustice is well expressed by the following state- 
ment by the German theologian Martin Niemoller: 

In Germany, the Nazis first came for the Jews, and I didn't speak 
up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists, 
and I didn't speak up because I was not a communist. Then they 
came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I 
wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the gypsies, and I 
didn't speak up because I was not a gypsy. Then they came for 
the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was not a 
Catholic. Then they came for me ... and by that time, there was 
no one to speak up for me. 

Quoted in Jack Doueck, The Chesed Boomerang: How Acts of Kindness Enrich 
Our Lives, Deal, New Jersey: Yagdiyl Torah Publications, 1999, 83. 



6. Orchot Zaddikim 24, Jerusalem: Eshkol 1967, 160; see also Rabbeinu Yonah, 
Sharei Teshuvah, Shaar Sh'lishi, No. 5, 187, and 195. 

7. American Jewish Congress, Congress Bi-Weekly 31/8, May 11, 1964: 6. 

8. Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom, New York: Farrar, Straus 
and Giroux, 1967, 92. 

9. Shabbat 55a. 

10. PirkeAvotl:l\. 

11. Judaism 19 (1970): 38-58. 

12. Pirke Avot 5:20. 

13. Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication 
Society, 1962, and The Insecurity of Freedom, 9-13 and 92-93. 

14. Midrash Genesis Rabbah. 

15. Quoted in Norman Lamm, The Royal Reach, New York: Phillip Feldheim Inc., 
1970, 131. 

16. David Shatz, Chaim I. Waxman, and Nathan J. Diament, eds., Tikkun Olam: 
Social Responsibility in Jewish Thought and Law, Northvale, New Jersey: Jason 
Aronson, 1997, 3. 

17. Ibid, 4; also see Joseph B. Soloveitchik, "Confrontation," Tradition 6:2, 1964: 

18. Jonathan Sacks, The Persistence of Faith, London: Jews' College, 1990, 27. 

19. "Why We Went" (paper of the Social Action Commission, Union of Amer- 
ican Hebrew Congregations, New York); quoted in Rabbi Henry Cohen, 
Justice, Justice: A Jewish View of the Black Revolution, New York: Union of 
American Hebrew Congregations, 1968, 18. 

20. Many Jewish groups that are actively working on environmental and social 
justice issues are discussed in Appendix C. This section focuses on compo- 
nents of the Jewish community that are not sufficiently involved. 

21. Heschel, Prophets, 10-11. 

22. Heschel, Insecurity of Freedom, 3, 4. 

23. Quoted in Samuel Chiel, Spectators or Participants, New York: Jonathan 
David, 1969, 57. 

24. Quoted in Albert Vorspan and Eugene Lipman, Justice and Judaism: The Work 
of Social Action, New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1969, 

25. Pesachim 66b. 

NOTES 209 

Chapter 2 : Human Rights and Obligations 

1. Yalkut Shimoni 1:13. 

2. Cited in Rabbi J. H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, London: Soncino 
Press, 1958, 17. 

3. Pirke Avot 3:18, citing Genesis 1:27. 
4- Sifre to Deuteronomy 11:22. 

5. Sotah 14a. 

6. Maimonides, Guide to the Perplexed, part 2, chapter 54. 

7. "The Last Days of Maimonides," in Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity 
of Freedom, New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1967, 291. 

8. Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 563. 

9. Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim, The Early Masters, New York: Schocken 
Books, 1947, 227. 

10. Cited in J. H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 563. 

11. Rabbi Pinchas Eliyahu of Vilna, Sefer HaBris, section II, discourse 13, quoted 
in Dovid Sears, Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition, Northvale, 
New Jersey/Jerusalem: Jason Aronson, 1998, 6. 

12. Ibid, 13:31, cited in Sears, Compassion, 8. 

13. Ibid, 13:5, citing II Samuel, 15:19, cited in Sears, Compassion, 7. 

14. Mishnah Pe'ah I. 

15. Quoted in Samuel Dresner, Prayer, Humility, and Compassion, Philadelphia: 
The Jewish Publication Society, 1957, 196. 

16. Pirke Avot 1:12. 

17. Shabbat 3la. 

18. Quoted in Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, p. 504. In Jewish numerology, 
the number thirty-six is associated with righteousness, and the Talmud states 
that there are thirty-six tzaddikim (righteous individuals) in the world at any 
time {Sukkot 45b). 

19. Ibid. 

20. Ibid. 

2 1 . There were several privileges that the stranger did not share. The cancellation 
of debts every Sabbatical year applied only to natives. While the Israelite was 
prohibited from charging a fellow Israelite interest on loans, this was not appli- 
cable when the loan was to a non-Israelite. Also, a foreigner, if captured, did 
not enjoy the benefits of the laws requiring the periodic freeing of all slaves. 

22. Yalkut to Judges 4:4 from Tanna de Vei Eliyahu. 

23. Tosefta Sanhedrin 13:2. 

24. Gzttin61a. 


25. Yerushalmi Demai 4:6 (24a). 

26. Henry Cohen, Justice, Justice: AJewishView of the Black Revolution, New York: 
Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1968, 51-52. 

27. Many other statements by Jews of the Middle Ages indicated concern for the 
treatment of non-Jews by Jews. Levi b. Isaac ha-Hasid, a French Jew of the 
tenth century, stated: 

Treat with equal honesty the Christian as your brother in faith. 
If a Christian make a mistake to his loss, call his attention to it. 
If a Jew be a tax gatherer, he should demand no more from a 
Christian than from a Jew. A Jew shall not be untruthful in busi- 
ness with Jew or gentile. 

Rabbi Yehudah ben Samuel of Regensburg wrote in his Sefer Hasidim: 

Mislead no one through thy actions designedly, be he Jew or 
non-Jew.. ..Injustice must not be done to anyone whether he 
belongs to our religion or another. 

In his Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, Moses ben Coucy wrote in 1245: 

Those who lie to non-Jews and steal from them belong to the 
category of blasphemers, for it is due to their guilt that many say 
the Jews have no binding law. 

These quotations are found in "Jew and Non Jew," Tract No. 3, Popular 
Studies in Judaism, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Cincinnati. 

28. Tradition, no. 2, Summer 1966, 8. 

29. Midrash Deuteronomy Rabbah 3:3. 

30. Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik, Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind: Civil Rights and 
the Dignity of Man, Jerusalem: Genesis Press, 1991, quoted in Dovid Sears, 
Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition, Northvale, New Jersey/ 
Jerusalem: Jason Aronson, 1998, 53. 

31. Kiddushin 20a. 

32. Soloveichik, Logic of the Heart, quoted in Sears, Compassion, 19. 

33. Ibid. 

34. Heschel, Insecurity, 86. 

35. Ibid, 87. 

NOTES 211 

36. Ibid, 93. 

37. Ibid, 95. 

Chapter 3 : Social Justice 

1. Quoted in J. H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, London: Soncino, 1957, 
820. Rabbi Hertz also offers a Chassidic rebbe's interpretation of this Biblical 
verse: "Do not use unjust means to secure the victory of justice" (p. 820). 

2. Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, "Torah Concept of Empathic Justice Can Bring 
Peace," The Jewish Week, April 3, 1977, 19. 

3. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, the Bostoner Rebbe, "And You Shall Tell 
Your Son," Young Israel Viewpoint, Spring 1997. Quoted in Dovid Sears, 
Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition. Northvale, New Jersey/ 
Jerusalem: Jason Aronson, 1998, 22. 

4. Ketubot 68a. 

5. Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Zeraim, Gifts to the Poor, 10:7. 

6. Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Gifts to the Poor: 10:7. 

7. Shabbat 63a. 

8. Baba Batra 88b. 

9. Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Avadim 9:8. 

10. Sotah 14a. 

11. Midrash Exodus Rabbah, Mishpatim 31:14. 

12. Pir/ceAvot3:21. 

13. Betza32a. 

14. Erwvin41. 

15. Genesis 18:2; Abot de Rabbi Nathan 7:17a, b. 

16. Betzah 32b. 

17. Yebamot 79a. 

18. Samson R. Hirsch, Horeb, trans. Dayan Dr. I Grunfeld, London: Soncino, 
1962, vol. 1,54-55. 

19. Samuel Dresner, Prater, Humility, Compassion, Philadelphia: Jewish Publica- 
tion Society, 1953, 183. 

20. In Judaism, there are only two limits to compassion. The first is that a judge 
must apply the law equally, without regard to whether a person is rich or poor. 
Second, one need not show compassion to those who lack compassion and 
practice cruelty. A Talmudic sage taught: "He who is compassionate to the 
cruel will, in the end, be cruel to the compassionate" (Yalkut, Samuel 121). 

21. Gittin 62a; Berachot 40a. 


22. For a detailed study of the Jewish tradition on compassion for animals, see 
Noah J. Cohen, Tsaar Ba'alei Chayim: The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Its 
Basis, Development, and Legislation in Hebrew Literature, New York: Feldheim, 
1976. Also see The Vision of Eden, an unpublished manuscript by Rabbi Dovid 

23. Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Tomer Devorah, Chapter 2, quoted in Dovid Sears, 
Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition, Northvale, New Jersey/ 
Jerusalem: Jason Aronson, 1998, 3. 

24. Shabbat 151b. 

25. Shabbat 31a. 

26. Baba Metzia 4:2. 

27. Baba Kamma, 113b. 

28. Sanhedrin 81a. 

29. She'iltot, Parshat VaYechi. 

Chapter 4: Ecology 

1 . Paul Flucke, "For the Sin of Terricide," in New Prayers for the High Holy Days, 
Rabbi Jack Riemer, ed., New York: Media Judaica, Inc., 1970, 44. 

2. Shabbat 10a; Sanhedrin 7. 

3. Mishnah Kiddushin 4:12; Jerusalem Talmud: Kiddushin 66d. 

4. Mishnah Baba Batra 2:8. 

5. Mishnah Baba Batra 2:8-9. 

6. Mishnah Berachot 30:5 

7. Story told by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin in "Biblical Ecology, A Jewish View," a 
television documentary, directed by Mitchell Chalek and Jonathan Rosen. 

8. Shabbat 10a; Sanhedrin 7. 

9. Kook, A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace, Section 2; Also see J. Green, 
"Chalutzim of the Messiah — The Religious Vegetarian Concept as 
Expounded by Rabbi Kook" (lecture given in Johannesburg, South Africa), 2. 

10. Ibid. 

11. Kiddushin 32a. 

12. Sefer Hachinuch, 530. 

13. Hullin 7b. 

14. Shabbat 140b. 

15. Baba Kamma 91b. 

16. Berachot 52b. 

17. Shabbat 67b. 

18. Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings and Wars 6:8, 10. 

NOTES 213 

19. Sefer Ha-Hinukh, 529. 

20. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Horeb, Sections 397, 398. 

21. Ibid, Section 400. 

22. Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:18. 

23. Quoted in David Miller, The Secret of Happiness, New York: Rabbi David 
Miller Foundation, 1937, 9. 

24. World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, Union of Concerned Scientists, 

25. Ed Ayres, God's Last Offer: Negotiating for a Sustainable Future, New 
York/London: Four Walls Four Windows, 1999, 27. 

26. Ibid. 

27. Paul G. Irwin, Losing Paradise: The GrowingThreat To Our Animals, Our Envi- 
ronment, and Ourselves, Garden City Park, New York: Square One Publishers, 
2000, 38. 

28. World Scientists' Warning to Humanity. 

29., Reuters, August 24, 2000. 

30. Ibid. 

31. Ibid. 

32. Washington Post, Ted Plafker, September 7, 2000. 

33. Baltimore Sun, Heather Dewar, Tom Horton, and Frank Langfitt, September 
9, 2000. 

34., Miguel Llanos, May 1, 2001. 

35. Francis Moore Lappe, et al., World Hunger: Twelve Myths. New York: Grove 
Press, 1998,41. 

36. Ibid. 

37. Ibid. 

38. Ibid. 

39. Portland Oregonian, Richard L. Hill, January 19, 2001. 

40. Los Angeles Times, Gary Polakovic, January 14, 2001. 

41. For a detailed analysis of how the misapplication of technology has been a 
prime cause of pollution problems, see Barry Commoner, The Closing Circle, 
New York: Bantam Books, 1974. 

42. Irwin, Losing Paradise, 38. 

43. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, "Pollution: Problems, Projects, 

and Mathematics Exercises," Bulletin No. 1082, 50. 

44. Salt Lake Desert News, Associated Press, October 22, 2000. 

45. A national Jewish organization that is applying Jewish values to the solution 
of current environmental threats is the Coalition on the Environment and 


Jewish Life (COEJL), a collaboration of twenty-nine national Jewish organi- 
zations spanning the spectrum of Jewish religious and communal life, which 
serves as the voice of the organized Jewish community on a wide array of envi- 
ronmental issues. COEJL is the Jewish member of the National Religious 
Partnership for the Environment. 
46. S. R. Hirsch, "The Sabbath," in Judaism Eternal, edited and translated by I. 
Grunfeld, London: Soncino, 1956, 22, 23. 

Chapter 5 : Environmental Issues in Israel 

1. Sam Kiley, "Israel is being Poisoned," Times of London, July 4, 2000. 

2. Statistical Yearbook, 2000, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. 

3. Ibid. 

4. Ibid. 

5. Ibid. 

6. Ibid. 

7. Zafrir Rinat, "Mekorot: Drinking water shortage is expected next year," 
Ha'aretz, December 11, 2000. 

8. Ibid. 

9. The Jewish National Fund advertisements can be found at 

10. "Israel could run out of water by 2010," Jerusalem Post International Edition, 
September 1, 2000, 5. 

11. Ibid. 

12. Ibid. 

13. Herb Keinon, "Touching Bottom," Jerusalem Post International Edition, 32. 

14. Ibid. 

15. Ibid. 

16. "Rivers of Darkness," Jerusalem Post International Edition, August 9, 1997. 

17. Ibid. 

18. Ibid. 

19. Planet Ark, Reuters, Danielle Haas, June 22, 2000. 

20. Ibid. 

21. "Bay Watch," Jerusalem Report, October 4, 2000, 19. 

22. "Israel is being Poisoned," Times of London, July 4, 2000. 

23. Ibid. 

24. Ibid. 

25. Ibid. 

26. Ibid. 

NOTES 215 

27. Zafrir Rinat, "Water pollution alarm bells in TA area," Ha'aretz, November 
24, 2000. 

28. Ibid. 

29. Liat Collins, "Tel Aviv's air among worst in country," Jerusalem Post Interna- 
tional Edition, November 8, 1997, 5. 

30. Ibid. 

31. Israel Union for Environmental Defense Report, 

32. Ibid. 

33. D'vora Ben Shaul, "Solutions That Go to Waste," Jerusalem Post, January 2, 
1998, 15. 

34. Liat Collins, "Green and Fighting Fit," Jerusalem Post, April 21, 2000, 17. 

35. D'vora Ben Shaul, "O Galilee, my Galilee," Jerusalem Post International 
Edition, February 1, 1997, 20. 

36. Liat Collins, "Jerusalem of Green?" Jerusalem Post, January 17, 1997, 14; also 
see Philip Warburg, "The Ungreening of Jerusalem," Jerusalem Report, June 8, 
1998, 54. 

37. Veronique Bouquelle, "Transportation in Israel," Public Information 
Pamphlet #1, The Israel Union for Environmental Defense, 1. 

38. Ibid. 

39. Bouquelle, "Transportation," provides an extensive analysis of Israel's trans- 
portation problems and potential solutions. 

40. Jerusalem Post, November 9, 2001, 16. 

41. Ibid. 

Chapter 6: Hunger 

1 . Baba Batra 9a. 

2. Midrash Tannaim. 

3. Passover Haggadah. 

4. Avot de Rabbi Nathan, chapter 23. 

5. Gary Gardner and Brian Halweil, "Underfed and Overfed — The Global 
Epidemic of Malnutrition," Worldwatch Paper #150, March 2000, 11. 

6. Ibid, 12. 

7. Ibid, 13. 

8. Frances Moore Lappe, et al., World Hunger: Twelve Myths, New York: Grove 
Press, 1998, 2. 

9. Based on calculations using data from the "2000 World Population Data 
Sheet," Population Reference Bureau, 1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 
Washington, D.C. 20009-5728, 


10. Rifkin, Jeremy, Beyond Beef, New York: Dutton, 1992, 177. 

11. Philadelphia Inquirer, October 13, 1974, 9B. 

12. Lester R. Brown, In the Human Interest, New York: Norton, 1974, 21. 

13. Lester R. Brown, Tough Choices: Facing the Challenge of Food Scarcity, New 

York: W.W. Norton, 1996. For another perspective on future world food 
prospects: The International Food Policy Research Institute (a project of the 
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) held a major 
international conference, the Sustainable Food Security Forum, in Bonn, 
Germany in September, 2001. The focus of the conference was to assess 
trends in hunger, population, and food production over the next twenty years. 
The report issued at the conference concluded that it is possible to reduce 
hunger and increase food production between now and 2020, but only if 
proper policies and investments are adopted. IFPRI stated that 800 million 
people in the world are currently food-insecure (i.e., are either on their way 
to starvation or don't know where their next meal is coming from). The 
United Nations World Food Summit in 1996 set the goal of reducing hunger 
by fifty percent by 2025. The UN's world Food and Agriculture Association 
(FAO) now acknowledges that this goal is not likely to be met. IFPRI's report 
states that hunger could be reduced by half or more, if developed and devel- 
oping nations agreed on the necessary principles. These would include the 
investment of about $10 billion per year (equal to what governments 
currently spend on weaponry each week); in rural infrastructure (such as 
roads) and in irrigation, primary education, basic health care, and agricultural 
research to increase yields per acre. A move away from the consumption of 
meat would also make a significant difference: IFPRI says that eighty percent 
of the increased demand for grain in the less-developed world will be for grain 
used as feed for livestock. Without adopting policies such as these, we will see 
the hunger crisis (especially in sub-Saharan Africa) worsen. Detailed studies 
and articles on many aspects of these projections toward the year 2020 can be 
found at the IFPRI website. 

14. A detailed analysis of root causes of world hunger is in Lappe, World Hunger. 
The group behind the book and the research is Food First/Institute for Food 
and Development Policy, 398 60th Street, Oakland, CA 94618; Phone (510) 
654-4400; email; 

15. World Population Data Sheet. 

16. Food First analysis at 

17. Ibid. 

NOTES 217 

18. Calculated from Food and Agriculture Organization, 1992 FAO Production 
Yearbook, Vol. 46, Rome: FAO, 1993, cited in Lappe, World Hunger, 8. 

19. Food and Agriculture Organization, 1995 FAO Production Yearbook, Vol. 49, 
Rome: FAO, 1996, cited in Lappe, World Hunger, 8. 

20. Food First analysis at 

21. China's progress in greatly reducing hunger is discussed by Frances Moore 
Lappe and Joseph Collins, Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity (Boston, 
Houghton, Mifflin, 1977), 95-96, 166-167, 400-401. 

22. See Lappe, World Hunger, 16. 

23. The analysis in this paragraph is based on material from the Institute for Food 
and Development Policy, 

24. Ibid. 

25. See Lappe, World Hunger. 


27. Lappe, Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity, 77. 

28. For a documented, comprehensive discussion of the effects of colonialism and 
neocolonialism in creating and spreading hunger, see Lappe, Food First, 75- 

29. "The Farm Report," Farm Animal Reform Movement, Box 30654, Bethesda, 
MD 20824, 


31. Pirke Avot 1:14. 

32. Berachot 55a. 

33. Paper on world hunger from Mazon, the ad hoc Jewish committee on hunger, 
New York, 1975. 

34. Class before Passover given at Young Israel of Staten Island, attended by 

35. Jay Dinshah, The Vegetarian Way, Proceedings of the 24th World Vegetarian 
Conference, Madras, India, 1977, 34. 

36. "The Energy-Food Crisis: A Challenge to Peace — A Call to Faith" statement 
from the Inter-religious Peace Colloquium, held in Bellagio, Italy, May 1975. 
As this book was going to press, the December 7, 2001 issue of the Jewish Week 
reported that twenty-seven fervently Orthodox rabbis, under the leadership 
of the Agudath Israel of America, will issue formal guidelines to sharply 
reduce waste and extravagence at Jewish weddings. 


Chapter 7: Peace 

1. Midrash Leviticus Rabbah 9:9. 

2. Pirke Avot 1:12. 

3. Yalkut Shimoni, Yithro 273. 

4. Midrash Leviticus Rabbah 9:9. 

5. Midrash Deuteronomy Rabbah 5:15. 

6. Ibid. 

7. Gittin 59b. 

8. Midrash Genesis Rabbah 38:6. 

9. Shabbat 6:4 

10. Avoda Zarah 17b. 

1 1 . Avot de Rabbi Nathan 51:27. 

12. Pir/ce Avot 4:1. 

13. Sifra Kedoshim 11:8. 

14. I Chronicles 22:8-9. 

15. Pir/ce Avot 5:11. 

16. Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, "Sanctions in Judaism for Peace," in World Reli- 
gions and World Peace, Homer A. Jack, ed., Boston: Beacon, 1968. 

17. Quoted in "World Hunger," World Vision 19, February 1975, p. 5. 

18. Staten Island Advance article by Susan Fong, July 1, 1980, 1. 

19. Ta'anit 4:2; Megilla 3:5. 

20. Sanhedrin 39b. 

21. Avot de Rabbi Nathan, chapter 23. 

22. Rabbi J. H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, London: Soncino, 1957, 501, 

23. Tanchuma Mishpatim I. 

24. Quoted in Rabbi Samuel Belkin, In His Image, New York: Abelard Schuman 
Limited, 1960, 227. 

25. BabaMetzia 32b. 

26. Sanhedrin 74a. 

27. Ibid. 

28. Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim, 7:7. 

29. Nedarim 32a. 

30. Quoted in Richard G. Hirsch, Thy Most Precious Gift, Peace in Jewish Tradi- 
tion, New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1974, 8. 

31. Shabbat 23b. 

32. BabaKamma 93 a. 

33. Yoma 23a; Shabbat 88b; Gittin 36b. 

NOTES 219 

34. J. C. Herold, The Mind of Napoleon, New York: Columbia University Press, 
1955, 76. 

35. Chayei Moharan 546, Quoted in Dovid Sears, Compassion for Humanity in the 
Jewish Tradition, North vale, New Jersey/Jerusalem: Jason Aronson, 1998, 34. 

36. See "Judaism and Peacemaking," Fellowship, Jan-Feb. 1976, 14, 15. 

37. Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melakim, 3:9 

38. Action Memo, Synagogue Council of America, January 1970, 1. 

39. Shawn Perry, ed., "Words of Conscience, Religious Statements on Conscien- 
tious Objection," National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious 
Objectors, Washington, D.C. Also see Allen Solomonow, ed. Roots of Jewish 
Nonviolence, Nyack, NY: Jewish Peace Fellowship, 1981. 

40. Ibid. 

41. Ibid. 

Chapter 8: International Concerns 

1. Lester Brown, World Without Borders, New York: Vintage, 1973, 41. 

2. Calculation based on data in the "2001 World Population Data Sheet," Popu- 
lation Reference Bureau, 1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 

3. Much attention and organizing energy has been devoted in recent years to the 
problem of sweatshop working conditions in developing countries. Universi- 
ties, celebrities, and shoe manufacturers have been surprised by revelations that 
their apparel is made by underage workers toiling long hours for little pay in 
unhealthful and dangerous conditions. The U.S. labor movement grew in part 
out of unions formed by immigrant workers (many of them Jewish) employed 
in garment sweatshops in the early twentieth century. Jewish experience and 
values should lead us to join in the movement to eliminate sweatshops every- 
where. Contact the Worker Rights Consortium (founded by United Students 
Against Sweatshops, supportive university administrations, and UNITE, the 
garment workers union) at, the National Labor 
Committee (which has uncovered and publicized some of the worst violators) 
at, or Co-op America's site, 

Dozens of the poorest countries in the world are crushed by huge amounts 
of debt owed to wealthier countries, international agencies, and foreign 
banks. Much of this debt came about because of improvident lending policies 
in previous decades, and because many of these countries have been ruled by 
oppressive and corrupt governments that squandered or stole most of the 
money as it came in. Energy costs have soared; prices of raw materials 


produced by developing countries have plunged; wealthier countries have 
held onto protectionist trade policies to limit imports of agricultural produce, 
textiles, and other products. International organizations such as the Interna- 
tional Monetary Fund have required draconian fiscal policies and budgets 
from poorer nations, squeezing their ability to provide for the neediest citizens 
and increasing the anger and poverty of their people. 

When wealthy countries face recession and debt, as the U.S. does 
currently, they engage in deficit spending and widen the social safety net. The 
IMF doesn't allow poor countries in the same fix to do so; it insists on 
"Herbert Hoover style" economic policies. Now that some of these countries 
have chosen democratic governments that are trying to improve their 
nations' circumstances, they are trapped by the huge debts accrued long 
before. As the debt has deepened and misery has spread, a coalition of 
concerned groups around the world (including major churches, rock stars, 
and advocates for children, health care, and the environment) has gradually 
come together to propose a debt jubilee. Based on the principle in the Torah 
that all debts in the Land of Israel were forgiven every seven years and that 
all land returned to its original owners every fifty years (Leviticus 25:8-13), 
the international jubilee movement has proposed that all of the debts of poor 
countries be cancelled (in exchange for greater spending on public health and 
education and responsible, responsive government). The target date was the 
civil year 2000, divisible by the Biblical 50, but only some of the countries 
achieved partial debt relief. The effort continues; for more information, 

Polls show that most Americans believe that the United States spends far 
too much on foreign aid to needy nations around the world. That's because 
Americans think that perhaps one-tenth of the federal budget, rather than a 
fraction of one percent, is invested to assist poor countries' development and 
to promote sustainable agriculture, environmental protection, health, nutri- 
tion, and infrastructure. In fact, foreign aid now costs the U.S. less than one- 
tenth of one percent of its Gross Domestic Product. In contrast, the Marshall 
Plan in the 1940s cost over two percent of the country's GDP. Professor 
Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard has proposed that the United States, Japan, and 
Europe each increase their foreign assistance by a fraction of a percent of 
Gross Domestic Product, which would produce tens of billions of additional 
dollars. Writes Sachs: "This country [and its partners in Europe in Asia are] 
so rich that we wouldn't have to do much, relative to our income, to accom- 
plish an enormous amount of good [in areas such as] disease control, primary 

NOTES 221 

education, clean water, and other vital needs of impoverished places with 

strategic significance [A] few added tenths of one percent of GDP... could 

do what was never before possible in human history: ensure that the basic 
needs. . .of all impoverished children in this world [are met]" (Washington Post, 
November 21, 2001). The events of September 11 have reminded many 
Americans who believed they could remove themselves from the rest of the 
world that poverty, instability, tyranny in any corner of the globe can affect 
us all. And there is also a compelling moral argument. The World Health 
Organization reports that less than one- tenth of one percent of the income of 
wealthier countries (an American expense equal to ten cents a day from each 
U.S. citizen) could save at least eight million lives each year by providing 
basic health expenses that poor countries can't afford, to combat tuberculosis, 
malaria, AIDS, and other widespread illnesses. The same WHO report 
compared the share of income spent by each advanced country on foreign aid: 
the U.S. is dead last, behind Greece and Portugal. If the U.S. donated a small 
portion of what Americans think we do, diseases that cripple the societies and 
economies of poor countries (and threaten everyone, in this era of interna- 
tional travel) could be beaten back. (New York Times, December 25, 2001). 
Properly managed and supervised, international assistance from governments 
and agencies can make an incalculable difference in the lives of our fellow 
human beings who live in the shadows of want and pain. 

4. Ibid. 

5. Ibid. 

6. Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Downers Grove, IL: Inter- 
varsity Press, 1979, 33. 

7. "World Population: More Than Just Numbers," Population Reference Bureau 
booklet. Washington, D.C., 2000. 

8. Sider, 34. 

9. Lester Brown, In the Human Interest, New York: Norton, 1974, 165. 

10. "2000 World Population Data Sheet," Population Reference Bureau, 1875 
Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009-5728, 

11. Frances Moore Lappe, et al., World Hunger, 2. 

12. Robert L. Heilbroner, The Great Assent: The Struggle for Economic Develop- 
ment in Our Time, New York: Harper and Row, 1963, 33-36. Also see Lappe 
et al., World Hunger, 3 for a discussion of these factors. 

13. The biblical Jubilee year is discussed in Leviticus 25:8-55. 

14. Much of the background information in this section came from Hilary 
French, Vanishing Borders: Protecting the Planet in the Age of Globalization, New 


York/London: W.W. Norton, 2000; Lappe, World Hunger; and Walden Bello, 
The Future in the Balance: Essays on Globalization and Resistance, Oakland, 
California: Food First Books, 2001. 

15. Hilary French, Vanishing Borders, 6. 

16. Ibid. 

17. Ibid. 

18. Ibid, 7. 

19. Ibid. 

20. Ibid, 6. 

21. Jerry Mander, "Economic Globalization: The Era of Corporate Rule," Nine- 
teenth Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures, October 1999, Salisbury Congre- 
gational Church, Salisbury, Connecticut, 

22. Ibid. 

23. Ibid. 

24. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age 
of Globalization, Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2000, 5. 

25. Ibid. 

26. Mander, "Economic Globalization." 

27. Ibid. 

28. Ibid. 

29. Aristide, Eyes of the Heart, 11-12. 

30. Ibid. 

31. Quoted in Maude Barlow, "Water as Commodity — the Wrong Prescription," 
Food First Backgrounder, Summer 2001. 

32. Ed Ayres, "The Global and the Local," WorldWatch, September/October, 

33. Bello, The Future in the Balance, 60. 

34- Information on the Statement and Call can be obtained from The Shalom 
Center, 6711 Lincoln Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19119,, or 
the Religious Working Group on the World Bank and IMF, P.O. Box 29132, 
Washington, D.C. 20017. 

35. Ibid. 

36. Ibid. 

37. Ibid. 

38. Ibid. 

39. Shavuot 39a. 

40. Pirke Avot 1:14. 

NOTES 223 

41. Sanhedrin 105a; also see Yalkut, II Kings, 296; Jerusalem Talmud: Pe'ah 1:1; 
and Dovid Sears, Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition, Northvale, 
NJ/Jerusalem: Jason Aronson, 1998, 53-56. 

42. Philip Goodman, ed., The Sukkot and Simchat Torah Anthology, Philadelphia: 
The Jewish Publication Society, 1973, 114. 

43. Mechilta D'Rabbi Ishmael. 

44. Quoted in Martin Buber, Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings, New York: Schocken 
Books, Inc. 1961,81. 

45. Sanhedrin 37 a. 

46. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Likkutei Moharan I, 5:1; quoted in Dovid Sears, 
Compassionfor Humanity, Northvale, NJ/Jerusalem: Jason Aronson, 1998, 93, 

47. Ta'anit 4:2; Megilla 3:5. 

48. Robert Cordis, "The Vision of Micah," in Judaism and Human Rights, R. 
Konvitz, ed., New York: W.W. Norton, 1972, 287. 

49. Ibid. 

Chapter 9: Energy 

1. H. Josef Haber, "Bush Plan Focuses on Boosting Energy Supply," The Associ' 
ated Press, Washington, D.C., May 17, 2001. 

2. Ibid. 

3. Ibid. 

4. The classic discussion of these two energy paths is in Soft Energy Paths: 
Toward a Durable Peace by Amory B. Lovins, Washington, D.C.: Friends of 
the Earth International, 1977. 

5. Soft energy path fuels and methods are discussed in Renewable Energy: Sources 
for Fuels and Electricity, edited by Thomas B. Johansson and Henry Kelly, 
Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1993 and Renewing Our Energy Future, Office 
of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C.: U.S. 
Government Printing Office, 1995. 

6. Philip Shenon, "Battle Lines in Congress Are Quickly Drawn by Republicans 
and Democrats," New York Times, May 18, 2001. 

7. Ibid. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Ibid. 

10. Ibid. 

11. Ibid. 

12. Ibid. 


13. Jim Motovelli, "Balancing Act," E Magazine, November/December 2000, 30. 

14. Denis Hayes, The Official Earth Day Guide, 25. 

15. Ibid, 7. 

16. Ibid. 

17. Denis Hayes, "Energy: The Case for Conservation," Worldwatch Paper #4, 
Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, 1976, 20-25. 

18. Planet Ark, Reuters, September 20, 2000, 

19. Ibid. 

20. Los Angeles Times, Dan Morain, April 19, 2000. 

21. Ibid. 

22. Ibid. 

23. Donella Meadows, "Deregulation in California didn't help consumers, or the 
environment," Grist Magazine, 

24. Planet Ark, Reuters September 29, 2000, 

25. Ibid. 

26. Ibid. 

27. or call 1-888-782-7937. 

28. Ibid. 

29. The EPA report is available at and www.sier- 

30. Daniel B. Wood, Christian Science Monitor, May 14, 2001. 

31. "Bush-Cheney Oil and Coal Plan Turns Back the Clock," May 7, 2001, 

32. Ibid. 

33. Mike Allen and Eric Pianin, Washington Post, May 9, 2001; Joseph Kahn, New 
York Times, May 9, 2001. 

34. "Bush-Cheney Oil and Coal Plan Turns Back the Clock," May 7, 2001, 

35. Ibid. 

36. Pollution effects from energy are discussed in Energy for a Technological Society 
by Joseph Priest, Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1979, 51-93; also 

37. Anna Gyorgy, ed., No Nukes, Boston: South End Press, 1979, 243; also see 

38. Ibid. 

39. Denis Hayes, The Official Earth Day Guide, 127. 

NOTES 225 

40. V. E. Archer, J. D. Gillam, and J. K. Wagoner, "Respiratory Disease Mortality 
Among Uranium Miners" Ann NY Acad Sri, 271:280-93. NRC Contract No. 
AT (49-24-0190), October 31, 1975. 

41. Tami<i32a. 

42. Ta'anit 23a; Midrash Leviticus Rabbah 25:5. 

43. Quoted in Hayes, Official Earth Day Guide, 34-35. 

44. Toronto Globe and Mail, Martin Mittelstaedt, September 13, 2001. Environ- 
mental news from Grist Magazine, September 13, 2001; www.grist maga- 

45. Ibid. 

46. Ibid. 

47. John H. Barton, "Intensified Nuclear Safeguards and Civil Liberties," NRC 
Contract No. AT (49-24-0190), October 31, 1975. 

48. Jewish statements about the importance and dignity of labor include: 

When you eat from the labor of your hands, you shall be happy 
and it shall be well with you. (Psalms 128:2) 

Great is labor, for it honors him who performs it. (Nedarim 49b) 

Artisans are not required to stand up from their labor when a 
sage passes by. (Kiddushin 33a) 

A man is obliged to teach his son a trade, and whoever does not 
teach his son a trade teaches him (in effect) to become a robber. 
( Tosefta Kiddushin 1:11) 

Rabban Gamaliel, the son of Rabbi Judah the Prince said: 
"Excellent is the study of Torah when combined with a worldly 
occupation, for the effort demanded by both makes sin to be 
forgotten." (Pirke Avot 2:2) 

Sweet is the sleep of a laboring man, whether he eat little or 
much, but the satiety of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. 
(Ecclesiastes 5:11) 

The dignity of labor is raised to the highest level in a rabbinic dictum. It 
concerns the Holy of Holies, the repository for the Ark of the Covenant, the 


most sacred part of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Only the high priest was 
permitted to enter, once a year on the Day of Atonement. The rabbinic state- 
ment reads: 

Great is work! Even the High Priest, if he were to enter the Holy 
of Holies on the Day of Atonement other than during the 
Avodah (worship service), is punished by death; yet for labor in 
it (for repair or mending), even those ritually unclean or blem- 
ished were permitted to enter. (Mechilta) 

Judaism considers all types of work to be dignified and ennobling, if through 
them an individual is participating in the creative process God intended for 
people: to improve the world. Consistent with this, the sages of Yavneh, the 
most famous academy of Talmudic times, stated: 

I am a creature, and my fellowman is a creature. I work in the 
city. He works in the fields. I rise early to go to my work. He rises 
early to go to his work. Just as he does not feel superior in his 
work, so I do not feel superior in mine. And if you should say 
that I do more for Heaven than he does, we have learned that it 
makes no difference. One may give more and one may give less, 
providing that his intention is toward Heaven. (Berachot 17a) 

49. Avot de Rabbi Nathan 1 1:23 a. 

50. Avot de Rabbi Nathan 3 1 . 

51. Fact Sheet from Solar Lobby, 1001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, 
D.C. 20014. Also see the paper "Jobs and Energy," Environmentalists for a 
Full Economy, Washington, D. C. 

52. Denis Hayes, The Official Earth Day Guide, 14, 16. 

53. "Bush-Cheney Oil and Coal Plan Turns Back the Clock," May 7, 2001, 

54. Ibid. 

55. Contact: COEJL, the environmental arm of JCPA, (212) 684-6950, ext. 210, 
fax: (212) 686-1353, 

56. Ibid. 

57. Ibid. 

58. The complete statement can be obtained from or 

NOTES 227 

59. CARE (Conservation and Renewable Energy) is discussed in The Community 
Energy CARE-ing Handbook, by Leonard Rodberg and Arthur Waskow, 
Washington, D.C.: Public Resource Center, 1980. 

Chapter 10: Global Climate Change 

1. Extensive coverage of global warming is found at, and 
in Ross Gelbspan, The Heat is On: The Climate Crisis, the Cover Up, the 
Prescription, Reading, Massachusetts: Perseus Books, 1998. 


3. New York Times, Andrew C. Revkin, October 26, 2000; also see Ed Ayres, 
"Leaked report says climate scientists now see higher projected temperatures," 
Worldwatch, January/February 2001, 11. 

4. Ibid. 

5. Tiffany Wu, "Earth warming faster than expected, humans to blame," January 
22, 2001, 

6. Clare Nullis, "Report Shows Global Warming Risks," Associated Press 
Report, February 19, 2001. 

7.; also see Leonie Haimson, "Taking the Earth's 
temperature for a March checkup," Grist Magazine, April 20, 2000, www. grist- 
magazine. com. 

8. Unless otherwise indicated, the examples are all from the "Global Warming 
Early Warning Signs" notes ( 


10. Salt Lake Desert News, Associated Press, October 24, 2000, www.deseretnews. 

11. Ibid. 

12. Fox News, Associated Press, November 3, 2000; London Telegraph, George 
Jones, David Graves, and Charles Clover, November 1, 2000; London Inde- 
pendent, Michael McCarthy, November 2, 2000. 

13. Ibid. 

14. Ibid. 

15. Information about COEJL can be found at 

16. Ibid. 

17. The complete statement can be obtained from or 

18. Los Angeles Times, Reuters, Tiffany Wu, January 22, 2001. 

19. Tom Cohen, Seattle PostAntelligencer, Associated Press, November 26, 2001. 


20. An extensive analysis of steps to reverse global warming and the benefits of 
such a reversal are at 

Chapter 1 1 : Population Growth 

1 . Judith Zimmerman and Barbara Trainin, ed., Jewish Population: Renascence or 
Oblivion, New York: Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, 1979, 

2. Ibid. 

3. A good source for current, reliable statistics on population is the Population 
Reference Bureau, 1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 
20037, (202) 483-1100, Their annual "World Population Data 
Sheet" is especially valuable. They also produce modules and other back- 
ground material on various aspects of population. A source for many valuable 
population-related articles is Beyond the Numbers: A Reader on Population, 
Consumption, and the Environment, Laurie Ann Mazur, ed., Washington, 
D.C: Island Press, 1994. 

4- "2001 World Population Data Sheet," Population Reference Bureau, Wash- 
ington, D.C. 

5. Calculation based on the "2001 World Population Data Sheet." 

6. Ibid. 

7. Ibid. 

8. Ed Ayres, God's Last Offer: Negotiating for a Sustainable Future, New 
York/London: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1999, 43, 44. 

9. Calculation based on the "2001 World Population Data Sheet." 

10. "World Population: More Than Just Numbers," Population Reference Bureau 
booklet, 1999. 

11. Jim Motovelli, "Balancing Act," E Magazine, November/December 2000, 29. 
The article's 2000 population estimate of 275 million was changed to 281 
million to be consistent with the 2000 census, as reported on the front page 
of the December 29, 2000 New York Times. 

12. Ibid, 31. 

13. Calculation based on the "2000 World Population Data Sheet." 

14. The "World Scientists' Warning" can be found at 

15. 2000 World Population Data Sheet. An example is that the population 
doubling time for Africa was only 29 years, while it was 653 years for 
Northern Europe, where many countries have stabilized or decreasing popu- 
lations. The 2001 Data Sheet did not include doubling times. 

16. Calculation based on the "2001 World Population Data Sheet." 

NOTES 229 

17. The group Zero Population Growth is located at 1346 Connecticut Avenue, 
NW, Washington, D.C. 20036; 

18. Negative Population Growth can be contacted at P.O. Box 53249, Wash- 
ington, D.C. 20009, 1-800-764-7393,, e-mail: 

19. David S. Shapiro, "Be Fruitful and Multiply," in Jewish Bioethics, Fred Rosner 
and J. Bleich, ed., New York: Sanhedrin Press, 1979, 71, 72. 

20. Maimonides, Sefer Hamitzvot, 212. 

21. Yebamot 61b. 

22. Ibid. 

23. Other statements in the Jewish tradition which show the great importance 
placed on raising a family include: 

To refrain from having children is to impair the divine image. 
(Midrash Genesis Rabbah 34:14) 

One who brings no children into the world is like a murderer. 
(Yevamot 63b) 

A childless person is like one who is dead. (Nedarim 64b) 

Was not the world created only for propagation? (Hagiga 2b) 

In his Sefer Hamitzvot, Maimonides comments on the purpose of the first 

God has commanded us to be fruitful and multiply with the 
intention of preserving the human species.... (Commandment 

The Sefer HaChinuch (Book of Education) also cites having children as a 
fundamental positive commandment, because without it, none of the other 
mitzvot could be fulfilled. The Talmud teaches that when one is brought to 
judgment, one of the first questions asked is "Did you undertake to fulfill the 
duty of procreation?" (Shabbat 31a). The importance of reproduction in order 
to populate the earth is also indicated by the prophet Isaiah: 

For thus says the Lord, the Creator of the heavens: He is God, 
He fashioned the earth and He made it, He has established it; 


He did not create it to be waste; He has fashioned it so that it 
will be inhabited. (Isaiah 45:18) 

24. Maimonides, Mishnah Torah, Hilchot hhut, 15:16. 

25. Sanhedrin 19b. 

26. Sanhedrin 99b. 

27. "Prospecting the Jewish Future: Population Projections, 2000-2080," Amer- 
ican Jewish Year Book, 2000, American Jewish Committee, 103-146. 

28. Ibid, 104. 

29. Ibid, 104, 105. 

30. Ibid, 105. 

31. Ibid, 110. 

32. Dr. Seymour P. Lachman, "Jewish Population in Accelerating Decline," 
Young Israel Viewpoint, Chanukah, 1992 issue, 14. 

33. "Prospecting the Jewish Future," 105. 

34. Ibid. 

35. Ibid, 110. 

36. Ibid, 118, 119. 

37. Ibid, 119. 

38. Ibid. 

39. Ibid. 

40. "Jewish Population in Accelerating Decline," viii. 

41. The Jewish Week, November 26, 1982, 5. 

42. Frank, "Population Panic," 13. 

43. Ibid. 

44. David M. Feldman, "Jewish Population: The Halachic Perspective," in Jewish 
Population, 42. 

45. SeeTrude Weiss Rosmarin, "The Editor's Corner," Jewish Spectator, Fall 1978, 

46. Cohen, "Coming Shrinkage," 21. 

47. Lisa Keys, "Jewish Education Nears Crossroads," Jewish World, September 
8-14, 2000, 2. 

48. Ibid. 

49. Ibid. 

50. Chaim Waxman, "How Many Are We? Where Are We Going?" Jewish Life, 
Spring/Summer 1982, 44. 

51. Rashi's commentary on Genesis 41:50, based on Ta'anit 11a. 

NOTES 231 

52. This might be even more appealing to Jews when it is considered that this can 
be read as Z-PIG, or "Zero Pig," and the dietary laws forbid the eating of pig 

53. 2000 U. S. Census, as indicated on the front page of the December 29, 2000 
New York Times. 

54. 2000 World Population Data Sheet. 

55. A challenging analysis of the true causes of world hunger is in World Hunger: 
Twelve Myths, by Frances Moore Lappe, et al., New York: Grove Press, 1998. 
Also see Chapter 6 of this book. 

56. I am indebted to my friend Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen for the analysis in this 
and the next two paragraphs. 

57. Jewish Population, x. 

Chapter 12: Vegetarianism — A Global Imperative? 

1. Rashi's commentary on Genesis 1:29. 

2. Quoted in Nehama Leibowitz, Studies in Bereshit (Genesis), 3rd ed., Jerusalem: 
World Zionist Organization, 1976, 77. 

3. Sanhedrin 59b. 

4. Nachmanides, commentary on Genesis 1:29. 

5. Rabbi J. H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, London: Soncino Press, 
1958, 5; also see Nehama Leibowitz, Studies in Deuteronomy, 3rd ed., 
Jerusalem: World Zionist Organization, 137. 

6. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Ha-Kohen Kook, A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace, 
Sections 1 and 4; also see Leibowitz, Studies in Deuteronomy, 138. 

7. Kook, A Vision, Sections 7, 12; Rabbi Samuel H. Dresner, The Jewish Dietary 
Laws, Their Meaning for Our Time, New York: Burning Bush Press, 1959, 
21-25; Cassuto, commentary on Genesis 1:29. 

8. Kook, A Vision, Sections 1-7; also see Leibowitz, Studies in Genesis, 77. 

9. Samson Raphael Hirsch's commentary on Genesis 9:2. 

10. Reverend A. Cohen, The Teaching of Maimonides, New York: Bloch 
Publishing Co., 1927, 180. 

11. See Leibowitz, Studies in Deuteronomy, 135. 

12. Elij ah J. Schochet, Animal Life in Jewish Tradition, New York: Ktav, 1984,300. 

13. Rabbi J. David Bleich, "Vegetarianism and Judaism," Tradition, Vol. 23, No. 
1 (Summer, 1987), 86. This article can also be found in Rabbi J. David Bleich, 
Contemporary Halakhic Problems, Volume III, New York: Ktav, 1989, 

14. Ibid, 87. 


15. Leibowitz, Studies in Deuteronomy, 136. 

16. Ibid. Also see Kook, A Vision, Sections 1, 2, and 4. 

17. Chulin 84a. 

18. Pesachim 49b. 

19. This issue is discussed in detail in Richard H. Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetari' 
anism, New York: Lantern Books, 2001, 124-127. 

20. Kook, A Vision, Section 4; also see the discussion in J. Green, "Chalutzim of 
the Messiah: The Religious Vegetarian Concept as Expounded by Rabbi 
Kook," (lecture given in Johannesburg, South Africa), 2. 

21. Ibid, 2,3. 

22. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, "Fragments of Light," in Abraham Isaac Kook, ed. 
and trans. Ben Zion Bokser, New York: Paulist Press, 1978, 316-21. 

23. Kook, A Vision, Sections 1, 2, 4, 6, and 32; also see Rabbi Alfred Cohen, 
"Vegetarianism from a Jewish Perspective," Journal ofhlalacha and Contempo- 
rary Society, Vol. 1, No. II (Fall, 1981), 45. This article can also be found in 
Roberta Kalechofsky, Judaism and Animal Rights: Classical and Contemporary 
Responses, Marblehead, Massachusetts: Micah Publications, 1992, 176-194. 

24. Hertz, Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 5; also see Kook, A Vision, Sections 6, 32. 

25. Green, "Chalutzim of the Messiah," 1. 

26. Shabbat 118b. 

27. John Robbins, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life 
and the World, Berkeley, Calif: Conari Press, 2001, 293; Frances Moore Lappe, 
Diet for a Small Planet, New York: Ballantine, 1991, 445, 446. 

28. Robbins, Food Revolution, 163. 

29. Ibid, 160, 163. 

30. Ibid. 

31. Joanne Stepaniak, The Vegan Sourcebook, Los Angeles: Lowell House, 1998, 

32. 1992 Census of Agriculture, Table OA, U.S. Department of Commerce, 
Bureau of the Census. 

33. Robbins, Food Revolution, 105. 

34. Robbins, John, Diet for a New America, 352. 

35. Michael Brower and Warren Leon, The Consumers Guide to Effective Environ' 
mental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists, New 
York: Three Rivers Press, 1999, 59. 

36. Frances Moore Lappe, Diet for a Small Planet, 20th anniversary edition, New 
York: Ballantine, 1991, 76, based on presentation of agronomist Georg 

NOTES 233 

Borgstrom to the Annual meeting of the American Association for the 
Advancement of Science (AAAS), 1981. 

37. "Facts of Vegetarianism," Booklet of the North American Vegetarian, 
Society, P.O. Box 72, Dolgeville, NY 13329, p. 3. 

38. Joanne Stepaniak, The Vegan Sourcebook, Los Angeles: Lowell House, 1998, 63. 

39. Ibid. 

40. Tom Aldridge and Herb Schlubach, "Water Requirements for Food Produc- 
tion," Soil and Water, No. 38 (Fall, 1978), University of California Coopera- 
tive Extension, 13-17; Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Population, Resources, Envi- 
ronment, San Francisco: Freeman, 1972, 75-76. 

41. "The Browning of America," Newsweek, Feb. 22, 1981, 26ff, cited in Lappe, 
Diet, 76. 

42. John S. and Carol E. Steinhardt, "Energy Use in the U.S. Food System," 
Science, April 19, 1974. 

43. Lappe, Diet, 10. 

44- Ibid, pp. 74, 75, based on work of Drs. Marcia and David Pimentel at Cornell 

45. Ibid, 74. 

46. Alan B. Durning, "Cost of Beef for Health and Habitat," Los Angeles Times, 
September 21, 1986, 3. 

47. "Raw Material in the United States Economy: 1900-1977," Technical Paper 
47, U.S. Department of Commerce, U. S. Department of Interior, Bureau of 
Mines, p. 3, cited in Lappe, Diet, 66. 

48. Ibid, Table 2, 86. 

49. Rifkin, Beyond Beef, 203. 

50. Stepaniak, The Vegan Sourcebook, 61. 

51. Lappe, Diet, 80. 

52. Ibid, 81. 

53. Keith Akers, A Vegetarian Sourcebook, New York: Putnam, 1983, 87; 

54. Stepaniak, Vegan Sourcebook, 62. 

55. Ibid, 65. This same source indicates that one agricultural textbook, Modern 
Livestock and Poultry Production, estimates that at least two billion tons of 
manure are produced annually on U.S. farms. 

56. Georg Borgstrom, The Food and People Dilemma, Duxbury Press, 1973, p. 103, 
cited in Lappe, Diet, 84. 

57. Stepaniak, Vegan Sourcebook, 64. 


58. Albert Gore, introduction to new edition of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, 
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994, xix. 

59. Pamphlet of Rain Forest Action Network, 300 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 

60. Newsweek, Sept. 14, 1987, p.74; Julie Enslow and Christine Padoch, People of 
the Tropical Rainforest, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988, 169. 

61. Jeremy Rifkin, Beyond Beef, 123. 

62. Michael Brower and Warren Leon, The Consumer' s Guide, 50. 

63. Rifkin, Beyond Beef, 1-2. 

Chapter 13: Conclusion 

1. Edmond Fleg (1874-1963) was a French essayist, playwright, and poet, whose 
main writings deal with Judaism and the Jewish people. Fleg's use of "Israel" 
in this poem is in the Talmudic sense of "the Jewish people," not specifically 
the historical or modern state. 


1. Pir/ceAvot2:21. 

2. Tosefta Kiddushin 1:13 

3. Business Week, Reuters, August 22, 2000, 

4. An excellent resource for this is The Community Energy CARE-ing Handbook: 
An Activist's Guide for Energizing Your Community toward Conservation and 
Renewable Energy, by Leonard Rodberg and Arthur Waskow (see Bibliog- 
raphy). ENERGY STAR for Congregations, a free technical support and 
information service of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has a one- 
hundred-page guide, "Putting Energy into Stewardship," at 


A. Books Relating Judaism to Current Issues 

Amsel, Nachum. The Jewish Encyclopedia of Moral and Ethical Issues. Northvale, 
New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1996. Short essays summarizing Jewish teachings 
on many issues. 

Artson, Bradley Shavit. Love Peace and Pursue Peace: A Jewish Response to War and 
Nuclear Annihilation. New York: United Synagogue of America, 1988. A 
survey of peace and war issues, based on Jewish sources from all periods. 

Belkin, Samuel. In His Image: The Jewish Philosophy of Man as Expressed in Rabbinic 
Tradition. New York: Abelard-Schuman Limited, 1960. The many ramifica- 
tions in Jewish law of the concept that man is created in the image of God. 

Bernstein, Ellen, ed. Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Spirit Meet. 
Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998. A wide variety of 
Jewish perspectives on environmental issues. 

Bernstein, Ellen and Dan Fink. Let the Earth Teach You Torah: A Guide to Teaching 
Ecological Wisdom. Wyncote, Pennsylvania: Shomrei Adamah, 1992. Guide- 
book for teaching Jewish perspectives on the human relationship with nature. 

Broyde, Michael and John Witte, eds. Human Rights injudaism: Cultural, Religious, 
and Political Perspectives. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1998. A wide 
variety of Jewish perspectives on human rights issues. 

Bush, Lawrence and Jeffrey Dekro. Jews, Mone;y, and Social Responsibility: Devel- 
oping a "Torah of Money" for Contemporary Life. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 
The Shefa Fund, 1993. Insights on Torah teachings related to obtaining and 
donating money. 

Cohen, Jeremy. "Be Fertile and Increase, Fill the Earth and Master It" : The Ancient 
and Medieval Career of a Biblical Text. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University 
Press, 1989. An interpretation that indicates that the above Torah verse 



(Genesis 1:28) was rarely, if ever, read as a warrant for unrestrained exploita- 
tion of the world. 

Carmell, Aryeh. Masterplan: Judaism — Its Program, Meanings, Goals. Jerusalem: 
Feldheim, 1991. Applies Judaism's mitzvah system to many aspects of life, 
including science, society, government, and the environment. 

Doueck, Jack. The Chesed Boomerang: How Acts of Kindness Enrich Our Lives. Deal, 
New Jersey: Yagdiyl Torah Publications, 1999. Heartwarming and inspiring 
stories about how acts of kindness help both the giver and the receiver. 

Dresner, Samuel H. God, Man, and Atomic War. New York: Little Books, Inc., 
1966. The relationship of the Jewish tradition to one of the world's most crit- 
ical problems: the threat of atomic war. 

Fackenheim, Emil. To Mend the World: Foundations of Post-Holocaust Jewish 
Thought. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. 

Fisher, Rabbi Adam D. To Deal Thy Bread to the Hungry. New York: Union of 
American Hebrew Congregations, 1975. Analysis of Jewish views related to 
hunger, and modern mitzvot to help reduce it. 

Cordis, Robert. The Root and the Branch: Judaism and the Free Society. Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1962. Shows relevance of the Jewish tradition to 
many moral issues of today. 

Hakohen, Yosef Ben Shlomo, The Universal Jew: Letters to M;y Progressive Father. 
Jerusalem/New York: Feldheim, 1995. Judaism's universal messages, 
including a discussion of people's obligations to the earth and its creatures. 

Hartman, David. A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism. 
Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights, 1998. 

Heschel, Abraham J. The Insecurity of Freedom. New York: Farrar, Straus and 
Giroux, 1967. Wide-ranging set of essays on such issues as Jewish education, 
Judaism and civil rights, Soviet Jewry, and Judaism in the Diaspora. 

. The Prophets. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1962. Compre- 
hensive analysis of history's greatest protesters against injustice. 

Hirsch, Richard G. The Way of the Upright: AJewish View of Economic Justice. New 
York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1973. Summary of Jewish 
ethical teachings related to economic behavior. 

. There Shall Be No Poor. New York: Union of American Hebrew Congre- 
gations, 1965. The application of the Jewish concern for economic justice to 
the problem of poverty. 

. Thy Most Precious Gift, Peace in Jewish Tradition. New York: Union of 

American Hebrew Congregations, 1974. Provides many sources for tradi- 
tional Jewish views on war and peace issues. 


Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael. Horeb, translated by Dayan I. Grunfeld, New 
York/London/Jerusalem: Soncino Press, 1962. Analyzes a wide variety of 
mitzvot, including those that teach us how to relate to the earth and its crea- 

. The Nineteen Letters. Jerusalem/New York: Feldheim, 1969. Fiery defense 

of traditional Judaism through eloquent letters to a critic. 

Ingall, Martin, ed. Choose Life: Judaism and Nuclear Weapons. Wyncote, Pennsyl- 
vania: The Shalom Center, 1983. An anthology of articles, interviews, 
speeches, and sermons concerning Judaism and nuclear weapons. 

Kellner, Menachem Marc, ed. Contemporary Jewish Ethics. New York: Sanhedrin 
Press, 1978. Has sections on political ethics, civil disobedience, pacifism, 
capital punishment, and business ethics. 

Konvitz, R., ed. Judaism and Human Rights. New York: W.W. Norton, 1972. A 
collection of essays, mainly by contemporary Jewish scholars, relating the 
Jewish tradition to such issues as human rights, ecology, peace, and freedom. 

Lamm, Norman, ed. The Good Society. New York: Viking, 1974- A survey of 
Jewish teachings on such issues and concepts as compassion, charity, ethics, 
and peace. 

Landau Yehezkel. Violence and the Value of Life in Jewish Tradition. Jerusalem: Oz 
V'Shalom, 1984. Essays from rabbis of various backgrounds on Jewish 
responses to nuclear threats. 

Landes, Daniel. Confronting Omnicide: Jewish Reflections on Weapons of Mass 
Destruction. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1991. Fifteen essays by 
prominent Jews on the nuclear threat. 

Lerner, Michael. Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation. New York: 
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1994. A rethinking of Judaism by a Jewish Renewal 
leader with the aim of building spiritually rich Jewish lives and a more just 

Levine, Aaron. Free Enterprise and Jewish Law: Aspects of Jewish Business Ethics. 
New York: Ktav, 1980. 

Polner, Murray, ed. The Disarmament Catalogue. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1982. 
Collection of articles, stories, and cartoons related to the arms race. 

Rackman, Emanuel. One Man's Judaism: Renewing the Old and Sanctifying the New. 
Gefen Books, 2000. Thoughtful essays by a renowned rabbi and former presi- 
dent of Bar Ilan University. 

Regenstein, Lewis. Replenish the Earth: The Teachings of the World's Religions on 
Protecting Animals and the Environment. New York: Crossroads, 1991. 


Rose, Aubrey, ed. Judaism and Ecology. New York/London: Cassell, 1992. Collec- 
tion of very readable essays on ecology from Jewish perspectives. 

Saperstein, Rabbi David, ed. Preventing the Nuclear Holocaust: A Jewish Response. 
New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1983. Considers 
Jewish responses to the nuclear arms race. 

Schwartz, Richard H. Judaism and Vegetarianism. New York: Lantern Books, 200 1 . 
Argues that Jewish mandates to show compassion to animals, preserve health, 
help feed the hungry, preserve the earth, and pursue peace point to vegetari- 
anism as the ideal diet. 

Sears, Dovid. Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition. Northvale, New 
Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1998. Statements from classical Jewish sources on 
universal issues. 

. The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish haw and 

Mysticism. Unpublished manuscript. Sources and essays on Jewish teachings 
related to animals and vegetarianism. 

Shatz, H., Chaim I. Waxman, and Nathan J. Diament, eds. Tikkun Olam: Social 
Responsibility in Jewish Thought and Law. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason 
Aronson, 1997. 

Siegel, Danny. Family Reunion: Making Peace in the Jewish Community: Sources and 
Resources from Tanach, Halachah, and Midrash. Spring Valley, New York, 
1989. Compelling argument, based on Jewish teachings, for nonviolent reso- 
lutions of conflicts at all levels. 

Soloveitchik, Joseph Dov. The Lonely Man of Faith. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason 
Aronson, 1996. Thoughts of one of the most respected Orthodox Jewish 
leaders of the twentieth century. 

Strassfeld, Sharon and Michael. The Third Jewish Catalog: Creating Community . 
Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1980. Has sections on social justice, 
ecology, and compassion for animals. 

Tamari, Meir. With All Your Possessions: Jewish Ethics and Economic Life. North- 
vale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1998. Torah teachings on many economic 

Vorspan, Albert and David Saperstein. Jewish Dimensions of Social Justice: Tough 
Moral Choices of Our Time. New York: UAHC Press, 1998. Jewish views on 
current social justice dilemmas. 

Vorspan, Albert. Great Jewish Debates and Dilemmas: Jewish Perspectives on Moral 
Issues in Conflict in the Eighties. New York: Union of American Hebrew 
Congregations, 1980. Fine discussion of controversial issues facing the Jewish 


community and the world, such as energy, ecology, economic justice, zero 
population growth, and race relations. 

Waskow, Arthur I. Godwrestling, Round 2: Ancient Wisdom, Future Paths. Wood- 
stock, Vermont: Jewish Lights, 1996. Excellent application of Jewish tradi- 
tion to "wrestle" with current problems such as injustice and violence. 

Waskow, Arthur I., ed. Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4, 000 Years of Ecology in Jewish 
Thought. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights, 2000. Wide variety of essays on 
various environmental issues. 

Wurzburger, Walter S. Living Jewish Ethics. Pitspopany Press, 1999. Insights on 
applying Jewish values in the contemporary world. 

B. Books Relating Other Religious Values to Current Global Issues 

Ahmann, Mathew, ed. Race: Challenge to Religion. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1963. 
Leguire, Stan L., ed. The Best Preaching On Earth: Sermons on Caring for Creations. 

Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 1996. Eloquent Christian sermons 

on environmental issues. 

C. General Books on Issues on Global Survival 

Brower, Michael and Warren Leon, eds. The Consumer's Guide to Effective Envi- 
ronmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists. New 
York: Three Rivers Press, 1999. Discusses contributions of various human 
activities to environmental threats. 

Brown, Lester R. Tough Choices: Facing the Challenge of Food Scarcity. New York, 
London: Norton, 1996. Predictions of major food scarcities if current trends 

Brown, Lester R., et al., State of the World 2001 . New York/London: W.W. Norton, 
2001. Annual analysis of critical global issues. 

. Vital Signs 2001 : The Environmental Trends That Are Shaping Our Future. 

Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, 2001. Annual update of important 
trends shaping the world. 

Hayes, Denis. The Official Earth Day Guide to Planet Repair. Washington, D.C.: 
Island Press, 2000. 

Lappe, Frances Moore. Diet For a Small Planet. New York: Ballantine, 1991. 

Lappe, Frances Moore, et al. World Hunger: Twelve Myths. New York: Grove Press, 

Lerner, Michael. The Politics of Meaning: Restoring Hope and Possibility in an Age of 
Cynicism. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison- Wesley, 1996. An attempt to 


reshape our economic and political lives based on love, caring, and compas- 
Tansey, Geoff and Joyce D'Silva, eds. The Meat Business: Devouring a Hungry 
Planet. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999. Challenging essays on the nega- 
tive impacts of animal-based agriculture on hunger, the environment, 
resources, animals, and human health. 


Aaron, 16, 81, 150 

Abimelech, 75 

Abraham, 4, 6, 27, 32, 46, 75, 92, 148, 150, 

acid rain, 50, 124 
Adam, 11, 149, 155, 163 
Adam, Teva, v'Din (Humans, Nature, and 

Justice), see Israeli Union for 

Environmental Defense 
Adelie penguin populations, 136 
Adirondack Mountains, 124 
Africa, 69, 71,98, 103, 175 
African-Americans, 24 
Ahab, King, 75 
air pollution, 60, 124 
Akiva, Rabbi, 11, 12, 14 
Alaska, 118, 137 
Albo, Rabbi Joseph, 162 
Alexandri, Rabbi, 88 
Alexandria, 89 
Alfven, Hannes, 126 
Allied resistance, 94 
Amazon, 106 
American Council for an Energy -Efficient 

Economy, 121 
American Jewish Committee, 150 
American Jewish Congress, 3 
American Samoa, 136 

American Vegan Society, 78 

Amidah, 82 

Amos, 6, 8, 22, 26, 112 

Andes mountains, 135 

Angola, 98 

animal agriculture, 105, 161—75 

Animal Life in Jewish Tradition, 166 

animals, 34, 43 

compassion for, 34 

treatment of, 34 
Antarctic warming, 137 
Antarctica, 136, 137 
Antiochus, 182 
Anti-Defamation League, 22 
anti-Semitism, 22 
Arab citizens of Israel, 63 
Arab countries, 94 

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 118 
Arctic Ocean, 137 
Arctic warming, 137 
Ashdod, 56, 60 

Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, 42, 164 
Asia, 71 

Asian financial crisis, 105 
Assessment Reports, 191 
Australia, 107, 137, 138, 151, 175 
Axelrad, Rabbi Albert, 94 
Ayres, Ed, 106 
Azzai, Ben, 11 




Babylonian invaders, 90 

Babylonian Talmud, see Talmud 

Bahamas, 137 

Baker, James A., Ill Institute for Public Policy, 

bat tashcHt, 43-46, 51, 52, 120-23, 139, 162, 

170, 172, 187 
Balaam, 5 

Baltimore, Maryland, 129 
Bangladesh, 70 
Bar Ilan University, 27, 57 
Barnet, Richard J., 86 
BeitHillel, 149 
Beit Shammai, 149 
Belgium, 69 
Bellagio, Italy, 78 
Ben Asher, Rabbenu Bachya, 25 
Ben Azzai, 1 1 

Ben Coucy, Moses, 204 (rill) 
Ben Hanina, Hama, 13 
Ben Samuel, Rabbi Yehudah of Regensburg, 

204 (n27) 
Ben Shetach, Shimon, 20 
Ben Zakkai, Rabbi Yohanan, 92 
Ben-Meir, Meir, 58 
Berditchev, 14 
Bering Sea, 137 
Bermuda, 136 
Bernstein, Mark, 121 
Bet Yetomin Society, 33 
Bible, 91, 92 
Bikur Cholim Society, 33 
Bin Laden, Osama, 182 
Birkat Hamazon, 79 
black lung, 124 
Black Power movement, 24 
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, 136 
Blair, Prime Minister Tony, 139 
Bleich, Rabbi J. David, 166 
Bombay, see Mumbai 
Borgstrom, Georg, 1 73 
Borneo, 106 
bracha (blessing), 167 
Brandeis University, 94 
Breslov, 93 
Britain, 139 

Brown, Lester R., 69, 97 
Brown v. Board of Education, 23 
brownouts, 117 
Brune, William, 172 

Bush, President George W., 117, 119, 142, 191 
Business ethics, 34—36 


CAFE, 141 

Cairo, 135 

California, 117, 118, 121, 136, 171 

Canaan, 82 

Canada, 124, 137, 151 

carbon dioxide, 134, 142, 174, 191 

carbon emissions, 141, 142 

Carson, Rachel, 173, 183 

Cassuto, Rabbi Moses, 162 

Caucasus Mountains, 137 

Central Conference of American Rabbis 

(Reform), 95, 152 
CGNU, 137 
Chaney, James, 24 
Chassidic master, 93 
Chassidic Rebbes, 79 
Chassidic tale, 76 
Chassidic wisdom-story, 113 
Cheney, Vice President Dick, 117 
Chesapeake Bay, 136 
Chevrah Kaddishah Society, 33 
Chiang Mai, Thailand, 107 
Chief Rabbi of England, 7, 14 
Chief Rabbi of Israel, see Israeli Chief Rabbi 
Chile, 101 

China, 49, 70, 137, 142 
chosen people, 114 
civil disobedience, 94—95 
civil rights, 3, 24 
Civil War, 21 
Clean Air Act, 51 
Clean Energy Program, 123 
Clean Vehicles Program, 123 
Clean Water Act, 51 
Climate Voice web site, 186 
coal mining, 124 
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish 

Life (COEJL), 130, 140 
coastal flooding, 136 

Code of Jewish Law (Shulhan Arukh), 29 
Cohen, Rabbi David, 164 
Cohen, Hermann, 17 
Cohen, Dr. Steven M., 152 
Columbia, 70, 135 
Commission for Environmental Cooperation, 

Commission on Synagogue Relations 
(Federation of Jewish 
Philanthropies of New York), 152 
Committee for Public Transportation, 62, 64 
compassion for animals, 34 
computers, 120 
Confronting the Challenge of Climate Change, 



Congress, see U.S. Congress 
Congressional Black Caucus, 24 
conservation, 120, 125, 140, 142 
Conservation and Renewable Energy, 131 
coral bleaching, 136—37 
coral reefs, 136-38 
Cordovero, Rabbi Moshe, 34 
corporate finances, 103 
Council for Agricultural Science and 

Technology, 169 
Crusades, 22, 182 
Cuba, 70 


Dallas, 135 

Dartmouth College, 9 

Daschle, Tom, 1 19 

David, King, 28, 75,84, 91, 111, 182 

dayenu, 162 

Democrats, 118, 119 

dengue fever, 135 

Denmark, 98 

depletion of ozone layer, 49 

desalination, 57 

desertification, 50, 172, 175, 191 

destruction of Temple, 93 

developing countries, 104, 156 

Diaspora, 151 

Dinshah, Jay, 78 

"The Disappearing Jews," 152 

Dlugolecki, Dr. Andrew, 137 

Dresner, Rabbi Samuel, 33 

Durban, South Africa, 181 

earlier arrival of spring, 135 
Earth Day, 128 
Ebola hemorrhagic fever, 105 
E. coli infection, 105, 106 
ecology, 37-65 

Jewish teaching on, 39—46, 52—54 

in Jewish history, 46—48 

current threats, 48—5 1 

causes of current problems, 51—52 

environment in Israel, 55—65 
economic globalization, 99—110 

negative effects, 102-07 

protests against, 107—08 
Edomites, 111 
Egypt, 4, 5, 16,32,75,82,87,89, 110, 135, 

155, 178 
Eighteen Benedictions, 111 
Einstein, Albert, 183 
Eliezer, Rabbi, 83, 148 

Eliot, Charles W-, 46 
Eliyahu, Rabbi Pinchas, 14 
"empty storefront" phenomenon, 106 
energy, 171, 187 

energy conservation, 120—23 

Energy Conservation and God's Creation: 

An Open Letter to the President, 

the Congress, and the American 

People, 130 
energy crisis, 117 
Energy Star, 122 
Energy Subcommitte of the Congressional 

Joint Economic Committee, 127 
environment, see ecology 
Environment Ministry (Israel), 59 
environmental crisis in Israel, 55—65 
Environmental Protection Service, 64 
Environmental Science Department 
(Hebrew University), 60 
Ephraim, 148 
equality of women, 102 
Esau, 155 

Essen Teg Institutions, 33 
Esther, 5 

Ethiopian Jewry, 7, 24 
Ethiopians, 112 
Europe, 120, 136, 157 
Eve, 149 

Exodus, book of, 4, 82, 87 
extinction of species, 48 
Ezekiel, 27, 30 

factory farms, 161 

Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM), 74 

Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of 

New York, 152 
Feldman, Rabbi David M., 153 
Fiji, 136 

Fleg, Edmond, 177 
Fleischer, Ari, 123 
Florida, 7 
Florida Keys, 137 
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 

Food First, 73 

foot and mouth disease, 106 
Ford, 101 
France, 98, 151 
Friends of the Earth, 186 
From Adam to Noah, 162 
fugitive -slave law, 21 


Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management, 171, 173 

Galilee, 61 

Gandhi, Mahatma, 79 

gap between rich and poor, 97—98, 103—04 

garbage disposal, 60 

Gemilat Chesed Society, 33 

gemilut chasadim, 3 1 

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 

(GATT), 101 
General Motors, 101 
Genoa, Italy, 107 
Gerar, 75 

Glacier National Park, 137 
global agribusiness, 105 
Global Arrogance or Planetary 

Community? — A Call to Communities 

of Faith, 108-09 
global climate change, 133—43 
global computer networks, 105 
global corporations, 101 
Global Hunger Alliance, 74 
global monoculture, 101 
global warming, 133-43, 174, 191-92 
Global Warming Early Warning Signs, 134 
Global Warming Resolution, 191 
Goebbels, 182 
Goodman, Andrew, 24 
Gordis, Rabbi Robert, 116 
Granada, 88 
Great Barrier Reef, 137 
Greece, 127 
Green, Joseph, 168 
Green Revolution, 71 
Green Trend, 64 
greenhouse, 126, 134, 174, 191 
greenhouse effect, 126, 174 
greenhouse gases, emission of, 139, 140, 141 
Greenpeace, 59, 186 
groups involved with global issues, 195 
Guatemala, 146 
Gulf War, 86 
Gvirtzman, Haim, 58 


Hachnasat Kalah Society, 33 

Hachnasat Orchim Society, 33 

Hadassah School of Public Health, 58 

Haggadah, 76 

Hagiga, 220 (n23) 

Hague, The, 137, 186 

ha-Hasid, Levi b. Isaac, 204 (n27) 

Haifa, 58, 59, 60 

Haiti, 104 

Hallel, 88 

Hainan, 5, 182 

HaNasi, Rabbi Yehuda, 91 

Hanina, Rabbi, 44, 113 

Hannukah, 92 

Haran, 150 

Harvatd, 48 

Hasmoneans, 92 

Hastert, ]. Dennis, 119 

Hatfield, Senator Mark, 86 

Hawaii, 136 

Hawken, Paul, 105 

Hayes, Denis, 128 

heat-trapping gases, 134 

heat waves, 135 

Hebrew College, 58 

Hebrew literature, 155 

Hebrew Scriptures, 82 

Hebrew University, 58, 60 

Hebrews, 165 

Heilbroner, Robert, 98 

Hertz, Rabbi J. H., 14 

Herzog, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi, 181 

Heschel, Rabbi Abraham Joshua, 3, 5, 8, 14, 

23, 183 
Heschel, A. ]., Center, 64 
Hillel, Rabbi, 16,76,81, 111, 112, 149 
Hillel (organization), 94, 186 
Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael, 6, 33, 45, 46, 

53, 165 
Hitler, 3, 7, 94 
Holland, 69 
Holocaust, 7, 22, 75 
Honi, 125 

Horowitz, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, 27 
Hosea, 8 

human rights, 102 
human rights, violation of, 21 
human rights and obligations, 1 1—24 
hunger, 67-80, 169-70 

Jewish involvement in, 74—76 
Hur, Robin, 172 
Hussein, Saddam, 182 
Hydrologic Service of Israel's Water 

Commissioner's Office, 59 


Ibn Ezra, Rabbi Abraham, 162 

Ibn Nagrela, Samuel, 88 

Illinois, 119 

India, 68, 71,79, 103, 146, 157 

Indian Ocean, 139 

indigenous tribes, 106 

Indonesia, 138 

industrial chemicals, 49 


industrialization of agriculture, 105 

Inquisition, 22 

Institute of Soil, Water, and 

Environmental Science, 59 
Institute for Food and Development, 70 
Institute for Policy Studies, 86, 104 
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change (IPCC), 133, 191 
International Financial Institution 

Advisory Committee, 108 
International Monetary Fund (IMF), 101, 105, 

108, 109 
involvement, 1—10 
Iowa, 172 
IPCC, 142 
Iran-Iraq war, 117 
Isaac, 75, 148, 155 
Isaiah, 27,46, 67,82,86, 111 
Ishmael, 155 

Israel, 7, 26, 49, 55-65, 78, 93, 151, 182-83 
Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 56 
Israeli Chief Rabbi, 19 
Israeli Ministry of Education, 64 
Israeli Union for Environmental Defense 

(IUED), 59, 60, 62, 64, 65 
Israeli Water Commission, 56, 59 
Italy, 78, 98, 107 
Itzik, Dalia, 59, 60 


Jacob, 75, 92, 148 

Jacob, Rabbi, 149 

Japan, 120 

Jeffords, Senator James, 128 

Jeremiah, 75, 84, 90, 112 

Jerusalem, 1, 56, 58, 60, 75, 84, 90 

Jerusalem Forest, 61 

Jerusalem Post, 62 

Jethro, 5 

Jewish activist groups, 193 

Jewish Council for Public Affairs, 129, 

Jewish day schools, 154 
Jewish National Fund, 57 
Jewish Peace Fellowship, 96 
Jewish Population: Renascence or 

Oblivion, 145, 152 
Jewish population trends, 150—57 
Jewish publications, 197-99 
Jewish sages, see Talmudic sages 
jihads, 182 
Job, 110 
Jonah, 112, 179 
Jonah, book of, 112 
Joseph, 155 

Jubilee, 99 

Judah, 90 

Judah the Prince, see HaNasi, Rabbi Yehuda 

Judges, 82 


Kaddish, 82 

Karp, Rabbi Abraham, 9 

kashrut, 110 

Kenya, 137 

Kenyan highlands, 135 

Kerala, 70 

Khomeini, Ayatollah, 182 

Kimelman, Rabbi Reuven, 4 

King, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther, Jr., 3, 183 

Kings, book of, 82 

Kishon River, 58, 59 

Kook, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Ha-Kohen, 42, 

164, 166, 167, 168, 169, 181 
Korach, protest of, 4 
Korea, 138 
Ku Klux Klan, 22 
Kyoto Protocol, 142 
Kyoto climate change treaty, 186 

labor, dignity of, 127, 216 (n48) 

Lagos, 146 

Lake Kinneret, 57 

Lamm, Rabbi Norman, 152 

Landau, Rabbi Ezekiel, 19 

Lappe, Frances Moore, 72 

Larson B ice shelf, 137 

Latin America, 103 

The Lean Years, 86 

Leib, Rabbi Moshe, 15 

Leibowitz, Dr. Nehama, 166 

Leviticus, 15 

Lewis Glacier, 137 

Lieberman, Senator Joseph, 128 

Lithuania, 185 

London, 146 

Los Angeles, 78 

Lot, 92 

Lovins, Amorty, 118 

Luria, Rabbi Isaac, 167 

Luria, Professor Menachem, 60 


Ma'aser Ani, 78 
Maccabees, 92 
mad cow disease, 105, 106 
Maharal of Prague, 2 


Maimonides, 13, 14, 19, 28, 29, 44, 94, 149, 

162, 165, 220 (n23) 
Malachi, 112 
malaria, 135 
Malaysia, 101 

Malbish Arumim Society, 33 
Maldives, 139 
Man of War, 82 
Manasseh, 148 
March on Washington, 3 
Marcus, Rabbi Jay, 77 
Maritain, Jacques, 6 
Maryland, 129 
mat'not yad, 78 
Mazon, 78, 187 
Meadows, Donella, 121 
meat production, see animal agriculture 
Meiri, Rabbi Menahem, 19 
Melbourne, Australia, 107 
Meltzer, Alan, 108 
Meltzer Report, 108 
Messiah, 111, 168, 169, 178 
Messianic Period/Age/Era/Time, 167, 168 
methane, 174, 191 
Mexico, 60, 71, 135, 138 
Mexico City, 60 
Micah, 27, 115 
Middle Ages, 79 
Middle East, 182 
Midian, 5 

Midrash, 2, 12,20,46,67,81 
Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah, 37 
Midrash Genesis Rabbah, 220 (n23) 
Midrash Tanchuma, 157 
Mill, John Stuart, 73 
Ministry of the Environment, 64 
Mirror Lake, 135 
Mishnah, 3, 35, 75, 83, 149 
Mishnah Sanhedrin, 1 1 
Mishneh Torah, 19 
Mississippi, 24 
Mitsubishi, 101 

mitzvah, 16, 28, 94, 148, 220 (n23) 
mitzvot, 2, 44 

Mizrachi (Middle Eastern) Jews, 24 
Moab, 75 
Moabite, 110 
modern technology, 103 
monoculture, 103, 106 
Montana, 137 
Monterey Bay, 136 
Mordechai, 5 

Moses, 4, 5, 16,47, 149, 150 
motor vehicle fuel efficiency, 141 
Mount Sinai, 47 

Mountain Aquifer, 62 

Mufti, 182 

Mumbai (Bombay), 146 

Murkowski, Senator Frank H., 118 

Museum of Natural History, 48 

mussar (ethics) movement, 185 

Myers, Norman, 171, 173 


Nachman, Rabbi, of Breslov, 93, 114 

Nachmani, Amikim, 57 

Nachmanides, 162, 163 

Naomi, 75 

Napoleon, 93 

National Council of Churches, 72 

National Energy Policy, 129 

National Resources Defense Council, 122 

Nazi Germany, 3, 181 

Nazir of Jerusalem, 164 

Nazis, 74 

Nazi-type groups, 22 

Nedarim, 220 (n23) 

Negative Population Growth, 148 

Neot Kedumim, 64 

Netherlands, 98 

New England, 138 

New Guinea, 136 

New Hampshire, 135 

New South Wales, 138 

New York, 146 

New York Board of Rabbis, 153 

New York City, 48, 135 

New York Jewish Federation, 145 

New Zealand, 101 

Newsweek, 171 

Nicaragua, 146 

Niebuhr, Reinhold, 9 

Nigeria, 146 

Ninevah, 112, 179 

Noah, 4, 1 10, 148, 155, 157, 164, 165, 168 

Nobel laureates, 48 

NodaB'Yehuda, 19 

Nogee, Alan, 123 

Non-Governmental Organizations, 181 

non-Jews, treatment of, 16—20 

nonviolence, 89—96 

North American Free Trade Association 

(NAFTA), 101 
Norway, 98, 101 
Nuclear Control Institute, 126 
nuclear power, 124, 125—26 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 126 



Ogalalla aquifer, 49 
OPEC 117, 129 
Oregon, 86 

Orthodox schools, 154 
Ozer Dalim Society, 33 
ozone pollution, 51 

pacifism, 85, 94-95 
pacifoid, 94 
Papua, 136 

Passover, 67, 76, 77, 87 

patriarchs, 92 

Persia, 5 

Persian Gulf, 86, 136 

Pesach, 48 

pesticides, 49, 50, 52, 73, 173, 174 

Pharaoh, 4, 39, 94, 182 

Philippines, 71, 106, 137 

Philistines, 75 

Philo, 89 

pilgrimage festivals, 48 

Pimentel, David, 171, 172 

plant and animal range shifts, 136 

plant-based diets, see vegetarianism 

pogroms, 182 

pollution, 173, 175 

Population Action International, 49 

population growth, 145-59 

in the United States, 146-48 
Population Reference Bureau, 145 
poverty, 31-32, 98-99 
Prague, 107 

Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister John, 139 
Prinz, Rabbi Joachim, 3 
prophets, 5-6, 8, 26-27, 32, 75, 90, 115-16 
proselytes, 111 
prussic acid, 132 
Prospecting the Jewish Future: 

Population Projections, 2000-2080, 150 
protest, 1—10 
Provence HaMeiri, 19 
Proverbs, 25 
Puah, 94 
Putting Energy into Stewardship, 122 


Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), 95 
The Rabbinic Ethics of Protest, 4 
rabbinic literature, 35 
Rabbinic tradition, 166 
racism, Jewish views on, 22—24 
Rackman, Rabbi Emanuel, 27 

rainforests, 50, 173-74 

Rashi, 150, 155, 157, 162 

Rava, 35 

Rawidowicz, Professor Simon, 155 

Reagan, President, 120 

Reform Movement, 152, 154 

Regensburg, 204 (n27) 

Religious Working Group on the World Bank 

and IMF, 108 
renewable energy, 125, 128, 140 
Republicans, 118 
Rice University, 122 
Richter, Dr. Elihu, 58 
Rifkin, Jeremy, 68, 175 
Rishon Letzion, 56 
Robinson, Michelle, 123 
Rome, 74,92, 127 
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 183 
Rosset, Dr. Peter, 73 
Roth, Rabbi Sol, 153 
Rufisque, 136 
Russia, 137, 151 
Ruth, 110 

Sabbath, 19,21,34,53, 110, 168, 169 

Sabbath laws, 83 

Sabbatical year, 41, 42, 53 

Sacks, Jonathan, 6, 7 

Salanter, Rabbi Israel, 185 

Samuel, book of, 82 

Sanhedrin, 75 

Santayana, George, 116 

Saphra, Reb, 35 

Sarah, 148, 150 

Sassov, 15 

Saudi Arabia, 101 

scapegoat, 22 

Schochet, Rabbi Elijah Judah, 166 

Schwerner, Michael, 24 

Science, 138 

Sea of Galilee, see Lake Kinneret 

Seattle, battle of, 107 

Second Assessment Report (IPCC), 133 

Seder, 67, 76, 77, 88 

Sefer HaBrit, 14 

Sefer HaChinuch (Book of Education), 220 

Sefer Ha-Hinukh, 44 
Sefer Hamitzvot, 220 (n23) 
Sefer HasidUn, 204 (n27) 
Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, 204 (n27) 
segregation, 7 

selective conscientious objection, 95—96 
Selective Service System, 95 


Senate Energy Committee, 118 

Senegal, 136 

Seychelles Islands, 139 

Shahbat, 1,221 (n23) 

Shahak, Dr. Israel, 19 

Shalom Center, 108, 109 

sharing, 76-78 

Shavuot, 48 

Shechinah, 150 

Shifra, 94 

Sh'ma, 47 

Shmoneh Esrei, 82 

Shulhan Arukh, 29 

Siberia, 137 

Sierra Leone, 98 

Silent Springy 173 

simplifying lifestyles, 78—79 

slavery, in ancient Israel, 20-21 

humane features, 2 1 
smog alerts, 51 
Sneh, Ephraim, 63 
social action, 185—88 
social justice, 25—36 
Society for the Protection of Nature in 

Israel (SPNI), 62, 64 
solid waste crisis (in Israel), 60—61 
Solomon, King, 28, 84 
Soloveichik, Rabbi Ahron, 20, 22 
Soloveitchik, Rabbi Joseph B. (the Rav), 7, 

Somalia, 146 
Song of Songs, 167 
South Africa, 101, 168, 181 
South Dakota, 119 
southern England, 135 
Soviet Jewry, 7 
Spanish Jewish poet, 88 
Speaker of the House, 119 
Sri Lanka, 70 
St. Augustine, 7 
Stanford University, 126 
Statement and Call, 108-09 
Statistical Yearbook, 2000, 56 
strangers, kindness to, 16—20 
strip mining, 124 

"structural adjustment" phenomenon, 106 
sub-Sahara of Africa, 175 
sukkah (harvest booth) 
Sukkot, 48, 88. 113 
sulfur dioxide, 124 

Supreme Court of the United States, 23 
sweatshops, 99 
Sweden, 98 
Switzerland, 186 
Sydney, 138 

Synagogue Council of America, 95 
Syrian Greeks, 92 
Syrian Jewry, 7 

Talmud, 1,4, 11, 18,20,21,32,35,67,83,89, 

91, 92, 112, 125, 148, 149, 150, 155, 163, 

165, 166, 168, 220 (n23) 
Talmud Torah Organization, 33 
Talmudic rabbis, 87, 92 

Talmudic sages, 1,3,4, 12, 15,31,34,35,40, 
42, 43, 76, 81, 83, 87, 88, 91, 92, 111,113, 
125, 166 

Talmudic statements, 44 

Talmudic teachers, 91 

Talmudic teachings, 18, 115 

Tarfon, Rabbi, 3 

Tel Aviv, 56, 60 

Tel Aviv-Givatayim-Ramat Gan area, 59 

Temple, 28, 76, 84, 93 

Ten Commandments, 34, 47 

ten plagues, 39, 88 

terrorism, 181 

terrorist attacks, 126 

Texas, 135, 138 

Thailand, 107 

Third Assessment Report (IPCC), 134 

Tien Shen Mountains, 137 

tikkunolam, 7, 54, 188 

Time magazine, 152 

Times of London, 55 

Tokyo, 146 

Torah, 1,2,4, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17,20,21,22, 
25, 28, 29, 31, 32, 34, 35, 39, 43, 45, 47, 
48, 51, 55, 67, 72, 74, 77, 81, 83, 88, 91, 

92, 95, 113, 115, 148, 150, 162, 163, 165, 

166, 167, 169, 181, 188 
Torquemada, 182 

Tough Choices — Facing the Challenge of Food 

Scarcity, 69 
Trainin, Barbara, 152 
Trans-Israel Highway, 62—64 
transnational corporations, 100 
Transportation Minister, 63 
treatment of enemies, 87—89 
tsa'ar ha'alei chayim, 34, 161 
Tu B'Shvat, 39 
Turkey, 101 
tzedakah, 34 


Ukraine, 151 

Union of Concerned Scientists, 123, 134, 147, 



United Kingdom, 135, 151 

United Nations, 133, 181 

United States, 73, 78, 98, 120, 142, 146, 147, 

151, 154, 156, 157, 169, 171, 172, 173, 

175, 181, 182 
U.S. Congress, 108, 129, 141 
U.S. Department of Agriculture, 68 
U.S. Department of Commerce, 172 
U.S. Department of Interior, 172 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 122 
U.S. Federal Reserve, 104 
U.S. Senate, 141 
University of Exeter, 59 
uranium mining, 125 
Unterman, Chaim, 19 


vegetarian(ism), 42, 78, 161—75 
Vilna, 14 

violence, Jewish attitudes toward, 89—96 
A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace , 164 


"Wal-Mart" phenomenon, 106 
war, 82-87 

abhorrence of, 83—84 

causes of, 85 

reducing prospects for, 86—87 
Washington, D. C, 86, 107, 109, 126 
water, 171, 173 
water pollution, 58—59 
water shortages, 49-50, 56-58 
Watson, Robert, 142 
West Nile virus, 105 
West Virginia, 138 
Western Samoa, 136 
Whirlpool Corporation, 122 
White House, 117, 118, 123 

Why I Am a Jew, 177 

Wiesel, Elie, 75 

Wilkins ice shelf, 137 

World Bank, 74, 100, 108, 109 

World Food Conference (Rome), 74 

world hunger, 68-80 

causes of, 72—74 

Jewish responses to, 74—80 
World Hunger: Twelve Myths, 72, 73 
World Population Data Sheet, 145 
World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, 48, 

World Trade Center, 126, 181 
World Trade Organization, 101, 107 
World Wildlife Fund, 186 
WorldWatch, 106 
Worldwatch Institute, 69, 97 


Yarkon River, 59 

Yavneh, 92 

Year of the Environment, 64 

Yeshiva University, 20, 152, 166 

yeshivas, 154, 187 

Yevamot, 220 (n23) 

Yiddkhkeit, 155 

Yitzhak, Rabbi Levi, 14 

Yom Kippur, 67, 179 

Yonah, Rabbeinu, 3 

Young Israel of Staten Island, 77 

Zambia, 98 

Zera, Rabbi, 3 

Zero Population Growth (ZPG), 147, 156 

zero population-impact growth (ZPIG), 156 

Zimmerman, Judith, 152 

Zutra, Rav, 44 




19:9-10, 18,41 


12:16, 165 


28:3, 148 

19:10 32 

12:20, 165, 166 

1:3, 131 

28:14, 148 

19:11, 15 

12:23, 165 


35:11, 148 

19:14-16, 15 

12:25, 165 



19:16, 74 

13:5, 13 


42:1-3, 75 

19:18, 14,28 

13:6, 1 

1:27, 12 

48:16, 148 

19:26, 165 

14:28-29, 18, 29 



19:33, 17 

15:7-8, 29 

1:28,42, 148,228 

49:25, 148 

19:34, 17 

15:8, 30 

1:29,42, 161,162, 163 
1:30, 163 


19:35-36, 35 
20:26, 5 

15:23, 165 
16:20, 25 



23:22, 18 

17:7, 1 

2:15, xiii, 43 



20:4, 82 

3:21, 13,31 




20:19-20,43, 120 

5:1, 12 


25:35-37, 29 

21:21, 1 

6:9, 157 



6:12, 164 

20:9-10, 127 


23:8, 111 

9:1, 148 


3:1, 150 


9:2, 165 

20:22, 83 

15:26, 18 


9:3, 164 

22:20, 17 


24:7, 1 

9:4, 165 

23:5, 89 

23:9, 5 

24:14-15, 18 

9:11, 110 

12:5, 150 

23:9, 16 


24:19, 18 



1:16, 17 

24:20, 18 

14:14, 92 
15:5, 148 


4:24, 13 

24:21, 18 
25:4, 34 

17:16, 148 

12, 165 

8:7-10, 168 

26:11, 17 

18:1, 13 

17:3-5, 165 

10:12, 12 

26:12, 18,29 

18:19, xiii 

17:10, 165 

10:19. 17,33 

30:19, xvii 

18:25,4,27, 110 

19:1-2, 12 

11:13-21, xiii 

34:6, 13,31 

25:11, 13 


11:22, 12 



II Samuel 

9:22-23, 13 

4:1-5, 115 




4:3-4, 85 



6:8, 26 


I Kings 




16:32, 83 

18:1-2, 75 


4:6, 81 



20:22, 88 


22:29, 27 



2:4, 85, 96 


2:20, 83 

2:10,33, 112 





8:4-7, 40 





29:18, 133 

11:6-9, 168 
19:23-25, 111 



24:1,39,40, 123, 161, 







46:10, 83 
82:3, 25 


40:26, 47 



4:9, 76 

42:6-7, 111 

3:1-2, 114 
5:22-24, 8 

104, 42 



5:23-24, 26 

128:2, 216, n.48 

1:4-7, 117 

58:6, 6 


145:9, 34, 43 


58:6-7, 67 

6:4, 75 


5:11,217, n.48 

6:4-6, 6 



6:6, 75 



1:5, 112 



1:10, 112 



4:13-14, 5 

2:34, 27 
4:19-27, 84 



5:28, 26